Patient satisfaction is a trending topic in the healthcare industry. Patients have high expectations of their healthcare providers, and they aren’t afraid to make a change if their current provider isn’t cutting it. You might feel the need to focus on improving the patient experience and build relationships to ensure patients return to your office. The best way to do that is by taking advantage of patient surveys to find out how patients feel about your practice and uncover areas where you can improve.
Things to Consider
While surveys can be beneficial for your practice, there are a few things you need to consider before sending one to your patients. It’s best to have a thought-out plan in mind before seeking feedback. The first thing you need to determine is the information you’d like to gather from your patients. Is there a particular area in your practice you want to focus on? Are you looking to improve a specific process? Once you’ve decided the information you’d like to receive, create questions surrounding that topic. Surveys should be short, about half of your responders will quit the survey after about five minutes, whether or not they’ve answered all the questions. So don’t waste time asking questions that won’t give you usable data.
You also want to make sure the questions are clearly worded and easy to understand. If you ask patients to rate areas or processes, define the scale and use it consistently throughout the survey. For example, if you ask patients to rate something on a scale of one to five with five being the best in the first question, use that scale anytime you ask patients for a rating in the survey. Don’t switch it after a few questions to a rating system where five is the worst and one is the best. Keeping the questions clear and concise is the best way to gather data you can analyze and use to improve your practice.
Post-Appointment or Direct Surveys
When using patient communication software, there are two types of surveys you can send your patients, a post-appointment survey and a direct survey. It’s important to decide which of these options is most appropriate for the questions you’re asking.
A post-appointment survey is exactly what it sounds like. Patient communication software will automatically send a survey to each patient after an appointment. Your practice can set how many hours or days after the appointment the survey is sent, but it’s usually best to send a survey within 24 to 48 hours after the appointment. This is the best type of survey if you want to gather feedback about the patient experience in your office. Questions can address wait time, interactions with the doctor and staff, ease of scheduling, opinions about the check-in process, and anything else that relates to how the patient felt during their most recent experience. Remember, you want to keep the survey short and focused, but you can still get a lot of useful information.
A direct survey is one that your practice chooses to send to a group of patients. You can create groups based on age, gender, diagnosis, or any other information in your practice management system, and send the survey to only those patients. These types of surveys can be helpful in determining services or products patients are interested in, educational information they’d like to receive, or general feelings about the practice. These surveys can even be useful in increasing patient engagement by asking fun questions too. A survey to get suggestions to name the new fish in your aquarium, or the location for a patient appreciation party can help patients feel connected to your practice.
The most important part of patient surveys comes when you start receiving responses. You need to have a plan in place to read the responses, analyze the data, and implement changes around your office. It doesn’t do you any good to ask patients for their feedback if you aren’t going to do anything with it. If patients can see that your practice seriously considers survey responses, and strives to incorporate suggestions into practice procedures, their trust and loyalty in you will increase.
The nice part about surveys is they are an ongoing process. With both post-appointment and direct surveys, it’s a good idea to schedule time every six months or so to review the survey and make changes. You don’t want patients to receive the same survey more than once, and hopefully you’ve made improvements based on their feedback, so you’ll want to ask new questions about different areas in your practice so you can continue improving.
Patient surveys can be a great tool to improve satisfaction and increase patient loyalty in your practice. Interested in more tips to continue improving the patient experience? Check out our guide, “Discover the Secret Sauce of Patient Satisfaction” here.