In a previous post, we discussed the importance of patient satisfaction in growing healthcare practices. Patient surveys can play a key role in finding out how patients feel about your practice and areas where you can improve.
How do you conduct a patient satisfaction survey?
Conducting a patient satisfaction survey begins with listening to your patient’s needs. Gathering feedback and having a plan in place to make changes to meet these needs is a great way to continually improve your practice, but it’s also helpful to know what kinds of questions patients are asking their healthcare provider.
We put together a list of five questions you should be asking your patients in your surveys, and five questions they’re asking their providers to help make sure your patient satisfaction game is on point.
What should a patient satisfaction survey include?
Consider the following 5 questions to use in your patient satisfaction survey:
1. How were your interactions with the doctor and office staff?
One of the most obvious ways to ensure a pleasant experience is by treating patients kindly and with respect when they are in your office. Asking them to rate their experience with the doctor and other staff they encountered during their visit can provide insight to your practice’s customer service. You want to make sure you ask multiple-choice questions or for a rating on a clearly-defined scale so you get data that is easy to analyze, but you can also include an open-ended question to give them the opportunity to explain their rating. The patient might want to tell you about a specific staff member who went out of their way to be helpful, or they may want to share details of a difficult encounter.
2. How was the wait time?
Wait time is almost inevitable, but it’s still important to ask your patients to rate their time spent in your waiting room. Some practices ask patients to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early in order to check in and complete paperwork, and sometimes patients arrive early hoping they’ll be seen earlier by the doctor. Regardless of the reason for the wait, your patients’ time is just as valuable as yours. Asking patients about their wait time can help you see if this in an area you could improve.
3. Did you get enough time with the doctor?
In the Patient-Provider Relationship Study, quality time with their provider was one of the top items on patients’ wish lists for their ideal doctor. We know your practice is busy, and more appointments means more revenue. But it’s important to make sure your patients don’t feel rushed when they are discussing their concerns with their doctor.
4. How easy was it to schedule an appointment?
If it’s too hard to schedule an appointment with your practice, patients will choose to go somewhere else. You might have the scheduling process down to a science on your side, but it’s a good idea to ask your patients how convenient it is for them. This is another example of a question where you want to be sure to include a multiple-choice question so you get data you can analyze, but it can also be a good idea to include an open-ended question to give patients the opportunity to go into more detail.
5. What else do you want us to know?
The questions listed above give you some examples of multiple-choice questions you can ask patients to gather feedback, and even some suggestions of places to include open-ended questions related to those topics. But it can be beneficial to end your survey with an opportunity for patients to give you their thoughts on topics you didn’t cover. While open-ended questions like this won’t give you quantitative data you can analyze, it can provide beneficial information and may help you choose relevant survey questions in the future.
5 Additional patient experience survey questions to ask:
1. How do you improve your practice and the patient experience?
The Patient-Provider Relationship study showed when patients decide to switch healthcare providers, that decision is increasingly due to the patient experience rather than the competency of the doctor. Patients want to go to a doctor where they feel their opinion is valued. Using patient surveys to gather feedback about your practice, and using the survey results to implement changes around your office can go a long way in showing patients you care.
2. How are you implementing new technology around your office?
Patients want greater connectivity with their provider, and that includes conveniences like online scheduling, two-way texting, digital check-in, and appointment reminders. Choosing a tool that can help your practice offer these benefits effectively and efficiently can ensure patients continue to return to your office.
3. How does your office stay up-to-date on best practices and new advancements?
We mentioned above that the decision to switch providers can have more to do with office logistics like scheduling and communication, than the aptitude of the doctor, but both factors still play a part in keeping patients loyal. It’s important to know not only how your office stays on top of new technology and best practices around the practice, but also how your staff stays current on medical developments too.
4. How do you keep your patients educated and informed?
Staying connected with patients between appointments helps build strong relationships and increase loyalty. Sending newsletters to keep them informed, both about what is happening around your office or advancements related to your specialty, can help build that connection. These newsletters can be informed about new staff members in your practice, events you are hosting, or even promote specials or new procedures in your office. Or you can send educational content with information about a patient’s recent diagnosis or tips for a healthy lifestyle. With the right patient communication tool, you can automate these newsletters to keep the communication consistent without spending extra time on the task.
5. How do you set your patients up for success?
It’s great to have a trusted provider, but what patients really want to see is improved outcomes in their own lives. They want to know how you are going to help them see the best results and improve their health. Patient relationship management software allows you to help your patients with dynamic appointment reminders, recare reminders, and eNewsletters. These automated solutions combined with the ability to text your practice and schedule online make things as easy as possible for your patients, while simplifying some of your processes too.
Want to learn more about what patients are looking for in a healthcare provider? Check out the Patient-Provider Relationship Study here.