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22 healthcare professionals share considerations for patient satisfaction surveys

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The Team at CallMiner

July 21, 2022

Healthcare Patient Experience Surveys Image
Healthcare Patient Experience Surveys Image

Patient satisfaction surveys are a valuable tool for healthcare organizations. When designed and executed well, patient satisfaction surveys can provide insight into patients’ perceptions of their experience, from making an appointment, to checking in at the front desk, to the quality of care they received.

That said, there are many things to consider when it comes to designing effective patient satisfaction surveys. What types of questions should be asked? Is it an online survey, phone-based, or a written survey? How easy is it for patients to access? How much time will it take patients to complete? Will patients remain anonymous? The answers to these and other questions will determine how many patients complete a survey when asked and how honest they’ll be with their responses.

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While patient satisfaction surveys provide helpful information, they shouldn’t be used alone to evaluate the patient experience. Coupling patient satisfaction survey results with data from a conversation intelligence solution provides comprehensive insights into the patient experience and patient satisfaction, allowing healthcare organizations to take data-driven action to improve the patient journey from end to end.

We asked a panel of healthcare executives and marketing professionals, “What's the most important consideration in designing a patient satisfaction survey?” Read on to learn what they had to say.

Joe Manna

@JoeManna

Joe Manna is the Content Manager for Alyce.

“Identify what you want to know…”

When it comes to how to create a patient satisfaction survey, I believe that you should first gather your team and identify potential problem areas in your practice. Whether positive or negative, each question's outcome should naturally result in a next step that addresses your patients' concerns. If patients express a desire for improved access to their provider, you can redesign your workflow to reduce wait times or implement and promote a patient portal. Patients responding to a general survey are more likely to consider your practice's overall performance and are less likely to give an extremely high or low rating based on a single experience.

Clair Jones

Clair Jones is the CEO and founder of LoudBird Marketing.

“Patient satisfaction surveys MUST be easy and quick to complete…”

We usually include no more than 5 questions, making sure to make them short, easy to understand, and unbiased.

Bias and leading questions tend to creep in with patient satisfaction surveys—we unconsciously guide the patient toward reporting positive experiences. And while we do want positive patient reviews to use in our marketing campaigns, we also want to learn ways our physicians and administrators can improve patient care. So it's important to phrase your questions precisely for the best chance to achieve both goals.

The format of the survey is very important to patient participation. We've found that patients prefer SMS Messages—patient satisfaction questionnaires that they can complete on their smartphone, through a link that's texted to them immediately after their appointment. We have seen much higher response rates with this method as opposed to email campaigns. Plus, it's automated, so there's no way busy clinic staff can drop the ball and forget to send the survey.

Many of my private practice clients have had luck sending an email after the appointment that asks the patient to fill out a quick customer satisfaction survey. At the end of the survey, we also prompt them to leave a rating on HealthGrades, ZocDoc, or Google. This can be a great way to leverage their attention span while you have it! Plus, it makes patients feel heard. They feel like their opinion is valued, and they know the clinic wants to do everything they can to make patient experiences positive.

Dr. Lea McMahon LPC

@SymetriaCenters

Dr. Lea McMahon LPC is a licensed counselor, adjunct professor of Psychology and Chief Clinical Officer at Symetria Recovery.

“When designing a patient satisfaction survey, these important factors must be taken into consideration…”

What the patient prefers: Patient preferences must define certain parameters when designing an effective satisfaction survey. These include their age bracket, education,, and career background. Other important factors include the number of times they return for consultations and how good they are at utilizing technology. This way, you can formulate the appropriate channels for their feedback.

Appropriate feedback channels: There are different types of feedback channels that you can incorporate either before or after the consultation session, such as questionnaires or digital devices such as a tablet at the front reception desk. With the onset of the popular trend of QR codes, a patient satisfaction survey can also be conducted through a QR code at the location.

Yoel Gabay

Yoel Gabay is the CEO and founder of FreedomCare.

“When designing a patient satisfaction survey, it’s important to pinpoint exactly what you want to know…”

While it’s nice to get overall general feedback, if you’re looking to improve or gain insight in specific areas, it’s important to target your survey towards those areas. It’s okay to throw in questions that are more generalized so that you get that overall feedback, as long as you have the targeted questions as well. If you don’t create a topic-specific survey, you may not get what you want from it.

That’s why it’s important to take the time before designing the survey to analyze exactly what you are looking to improve in and what you are hoping to gain from the survey. Once you have these answers clear, you can go ahead and design the survey.

Scott Spivack

@MedicalCredit

Scott Spivack is the Marketing Director at United Medical Credit.

“Design your questionnaire by prioritizing three things…”

Clarity, consistency, and brevity. These are important because it’s easier for patients to understand what exactly you’re looking for. This helps them give more insightful answers, allowing you to get deeper insights into their needs. Plus, always create questions that somehow tie in the idea of patient satisfaction. This fills patients with a sense that you care for them and want to offer top-quality care.

Alex Constantinou

@fitnesscircle

Alex Constantinou is the Managing Director of The Fitness Circle.

“Ask for real-time feedback…”

In the case of asking for feedback, research has shown that real-time feedback can be beneficial. Hospitals that used a real-time feedback system witnessed a considerable rise in doctor and overall hospital rankings, as reported by a study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine in 2016.

Kavin Patel

@convrrt

Kavin Patel is the Founder and CEO of Convrrt.

“Know your objectives…”

The first step toward ensuring a project's success is determining why you want to accomplish it. The same is true when it comes to creating a patient satisfaction survey. You must identify the areas in which you wish to improve. The survey findings may provide you with responses that are drastically different from what you expected. However, it’s always a good idea to be well prepared so that you can provide clear replies.

Kevin Lindquist

@HealthyDadDays

Kevin Lindquist is the Founder of Healthy Dad Days.

“Patients will know that their opinions matter and that their comments will help you improve the quality of your services by conducting patient satisfaction surveys..”

Sending out an online patient satisfaction survey shortly after a patient's visit will help you gain vital insight into their experience. With the use of a patient-centered approach, healthcare providers can improve the quality of treatment they can provide and increase the level of patient satisfaction. Sending an online survey also has the advantage of anonymity, which means patients are more likely to be truthful in their responses. For the most part, your patients aren't going to come out and tell you that your front desk staff is rude and doesn't provide the information you need; they're just going to go somewhere else.

Jessica Genet

@GetWithinHealth

Jessica Genet is the Director of Clinical Development and Training at WIthin Health.

“The most important consideration in designing a patient satisfaction survey is to…”

Include a combination of rating scale questions (e.g., a scale from 1 to 10) and open-ended questions. Rating scale questions are required to run measurements on the data. In other words, you can compare one patient’s satisfaction scores to another, one program’s performance to another, and changes in satisfaction over time. For example, you can look at average patient satisfaction scores before and after implementing a new intervention or policy to see the impact.

Rating scales play a key role in monitoring program improvement initiatives. In addition, it’s extremely important also to include open-ended questions because they capture the nuance of the treatment experience beyond a rating scale. Open-ended questions allow patients to tell their treatment story in their own words and can help providers generate program improvement ideas.

Patrick Casey

@felixhealthca

Patrick Casey is the Director of Growth Marketing at Felix Health.

“When designing a patient satisfaction survey, avoid using leading questions…”

Leading questions are designed to influence the patient's train of thought and encourage a desired response. This is the difference between asking, ‘How much did you love our practice?’ and ‘Describe your experience at our practice.’ The first question assumes that the patient loves the practice, which may influence how the patient responds. The second question makes no assumptions and gives the patient full freedom to answer the question based on their own interpretation.

It's always best to avoid leading questions. That way, your data set will remain free from bias. You need genuine, uncompromised feedback in order to improve your practice and create a better environment for your patients to visit. If you only want to hear good things, you might be collecting data for the wrong reasons. For this reason, it's best to check and make sure that you've only used neutral questions before sending your survey out to patients. That way, the feedback you receive will be as actionable and authentic as possible.

Aaron Gray

@nobslink

Aaron Gray is the Co-Founder of Agency 101, parent company of NO-BS Marketplace.

“Use a varied question set…”

When designing a patient satisfaction survey, make sure to use a combination of qualitative and quantitative questions. Measuring patient satisfaction is not as easy as rating it on a scale, and if you don't give your patients the space to describe their experience in detail, you might not have the context you need to understand their feedback. For this reason, it's important to use a varied set of questions throughout the survey.

While it's great to include simple questions such as, ‘Rate your satisfaction on a scale from 1 to 10,’ make sure to follow it up with questions like, ‘Please discuss your experience in further detail.’ This gives patients space to explain their reasoning and go beyond a numerical rating. That way, if patient satisfaction drops by a point or two, you can quickly isolate the problem and get to work on fixing it. Equally, if satisfaction increases, you'll know which of your changes made the difference.

Eddie Bye

Eddie Bye is the founder of Physio Flex Pro.

“The most important consideration when designing a patient satisfaction survey is…”

Content. As a physiotherapist, patient satisfaction is a vital part of our services. It’s an important indicator of the success of our sessions. Based on my experience, the top component of an effective patient satisfaction survey is its content. It should ask the right questions and should be easily understood by the patient population. Being brief and concise matters to avoid making it look like a hassle to answer. Content is everything when it comes to persuading patients to take the time to answer questions that do not benefit them directly.

Brandon Li

Brandon Li is the co-founder of Power.

“There are many things to consider when designing a patient satisfaction survey…”

But one of the most important, in my experience, is clarity.

If patients struggle to understand the questions or struggle to navigate the survey, they will give up and leave it unanswered. Surveys should be easy, quick, and accessible, and so you have to take into account the different needs of patients in general when designing the structure and the nature of the questions themselves.

I would also say that a patient satisfaction survey should be brief and straight to the point, and the questions should be designed in order to obtain a consistent pattern of answers that allow you to properly evaluate the data.

Pareen Sehat

Pareen Sehat MC, RCC is a registered clinical counselor at Well Beings Counselling.

“The most important consideration in designing a patient satisfaction survey is to…”

Choose a platform on which your survey would be displayed.

You should conduct a thorough analysis of your patients. This helps you determine which platform would be suitable for their needs.

For example, there’s an option to conduct the survey online through hosting services such as SurveyMonkey. Similar options under this category are equipped with in-built promotional tools that provide administrators with real-time results charts. This can allow administrators to make an informed decision which can help streamline internal processes.

However, if your patients are elderly and don’t have access to the internet, survey responses can be collected via a phone call. Phones are present in almost every American home and are one of the greatest ways to collect patient feedback. Your own staff can conduct a phone survey, or you can hire a third party for this job.

Dr. Ritesh Jain

Dr Ritesh Jain, MBBS, FRACP is the Co-Founder, Consultant Respiratory and Sleep Medicine Physician at WhatASleep.

“The most important thing to consider while designing a patient satisfaction survey is to…”

Maintain anonymity. You should keep respondents’ personal information confidential, as many people are not comfortable sharing it. If you can’t guarantee privacy, there is less chance of gathering honest data, so give patients the option of remaining anonymous.

Secondly, you should consider the type of questions you’re asking. That’s because you don’t want to make your patients feel uncomfortable. The survey should cover all the essential questions without any discrimination to generate quality results.

Megan Ayala

Megan Ayala is a Fitness & Health at Patricia and Carolyn.

“What makes a good patient satisfaction survey is…”

The addition of questions that help in evoking a higher number of responses. Holistically, the survey must cover all touchpoints of a patient’s medical care.

While designing the patient satisfaction survey, the most important thing to include is a question regarding the attitude of medical staff and hospital convenience. This is because these questions will help in eliciting the response of patients regarding the service.

Other than this, make sure the survey is easy for patients to read and fill in. It should not include too many medical terms or jargon.

Brent Hale

@BrentAHale

Brent Hale is the Chief Content Strategist at Tech Guided.

“With the move towards online services, client criticism is a higher priority than any time in recent memory…”

Particularly for suppliers who need an upper hand. Patient satisfaction forms and digital surveys can assist your training processes. You’ll have a greater understanding of your clients' viewpoints, be able to distinguish difficulties and bottlenecks, and make changes that will help you attract and retain more patients and drive income.

Anthony Martin

@choice_mutual

Anthony Martin is the Founder and CEO Choice Mutual.

“When designing a patient satisfaction survey, keep it as brief as possible…”

A short and easy-to-complete survey means more patients are likely to answer. But they’re also more likely to respond with honesty. A long, drawn-out survey might lead to patients simply filling in answers without regard to honesty, and some patients may opt out of completing it.

Serg Valencia

Serg is the founder of SergValencia.com and a Healthcare Marketing Consultant.

“The essential consideration in designing a patient satisfaction survey is to…”

Design questions that will elicit the most valuable and accurate information from patients.

The survey should be designed to address the specific needs of the organization and the patients it serves. Additionally, the survey should be easy to administer and understand, and it should be able to provide clear and actionable results to improve service.

Learning what patients think and feel is crucial to providing the best possible care and improving the patient experience.

Reece Kresser

Reece Kresser is the co-founder of Zizi.

“When designing a patient satisfaction survey, it’s important to always leave a space for…”

Feedback that isn’t restricted to the traditional questions you’ve included. This is important because it tends to make patients feel a bit more heard than they would simply filling out a list of

questions you’ve designed. This open-ended space can serve as a place for them to express their gratitude and overall satisfaction with your service, or it can serve as a place for them to address an issue that wasn’t covered in previous questions.

Regardless of what your patients choose to use this space for, you can be sure that it will provide a more well-rounded encapsulation of their experience and thoughts. It also will make them feel as though their feedback is truly valued, as opposed to just another step in your company’s process.

Eric Rodriguez

Eric Rodriguez is the Co-founder and CEO of Innerbody Research.

“A patient satisfaction survey is a way of indicating the practice’s attention to quality…”

And this also shows that they are keen to improve to meet their patients’ needs. When you are trying to pull together a patient survey, you need to make sure that you prioritize a couple of things.

You need to prioritize brevity, along with clarity and consistency. If these are a priority when designing your patient satisfaction survey, then you will ensure that you are providing your patients with the best possible service. And, this is invaluable to you.

You want your practice to reflect positively on the whole, and using a patient satisfaction survey will really allow you to do this.

Before even thinking about coming out with a patient satisfaction survey, you need to make sure that your practice is at the right level to be surveyed. You don’t want your patients to point out imperfections that you’re already aware of. So, once your practice is at a standard that you are happy with, then it’s the perfect time to distribute surveys.

Adam Fard

@AdamFard_

Adam Fard is the Founder & Head Of Design at Adam Fard UX Agency.

“Provide an insightful why…”

Even if your patient satisfaction survey just takes five minutes to complete, you're still asking patients to give up their time freely. If you don't want to be overlooked, give patients a compelling reason to spend five minutes with you.

Let patients know that you care about their experience at your institution and want their trip to be as smooth as possible in the communication that comes with your survey. Tell them that their input is critical to enhancing the quality of treatment for all patients. Make it obvious that you aim to create an atmosphere and service that is among the finest in the industry.

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