Patient satisfaction surveys are invaluable tools that help improve health care. For one thing, medical practitioners can use the insights to improve patient satisfaction and well-being. These surveys also allow institutions to optimize patient journeys, thus improving the experience.
Generally, there are four ways to collect patient satisfaction surveys.
- Administer the survey by having the patient respond while in the healthcare facility.
- Reach out to patients after treatment.
- Use the best survey software to automate the patient experience survey process.
- Engage the services of an online reputation management company.
Before learning how to improve patient experience, it is best to understand what patient satisfaction surveys are and how it works.
What Is Patient Satisfaction?
Patient satisfaction measures the extent to which patients are happy with the quality of care they receive from a healthcare institution. In addition, it gives medical practitioners and facilities an insight into their effectiveness and level of empathy.
Decades ago, healthcare providers noticed a correlation between patient satisfaction and the well-being of patients (Williams, 1994). To be more specific, they saw improvements on:
- Appointment keeping
- Medication use
- Behavioral intentions to follow recommended treatment
Realizing its positive implications, researchers began studying patient satisfaction to optimize health care outcomes.
Dr. Susie Linder-Pelz was one of many who studied patient satisfaction (Linder-Pelz, 1982). In her paper, she described it as a positive evaluation of distinct dimensions of health care.
Over time, though, medical practice and healthcare services evolved to become commercialized. Today, most institutions use patient satisfaction as an indicator of health care quality (Prakash, 2010).
What Are Patient Satisfaction Surveys?
A patient satisfaction survey is a set of questionnaires that aims to measure the satisfaction level with the quality of care. Usually, the questions cover the various touchpoints of a patient journey, which include:
- Access to healthcare and medical professionals
- Quality of medical care received
- Interpersonal skills of healthcare providers
- Communication and transparency between medical professionals and patients
- Financial aspects of health care
Some institutions create and conduct their hospital patient satisfaction survey. But others opt to use a healthcare online reputation management system.
Essential Qualities of Good Patient Satisfaction Survey Questions
Improving patient experience is possible by incorporating these qualities in surveys.
1. Do You Have the Right Patient Satisfaction Survey Questions?
The healthcare system has been undergoing reforms in the past three decades.
Meeting the needs of patients with chronic illness is one (Wagner, Austin, and Von Korff, 1996). Some of the measures introduced to improve medical interventions include:
- Using evidence-based, planned care
- Reorganizing the practice systems and provider roles
- Improving patient self-management support
- Increasing access to expertise
- Increasing the availability of clinical information
Another policy adopted is the patient-centered medical home model (Mitka, 2012). Essentially, it redefined the relationship between healthcare providers and patients as a partnership. The ultimate goal is to provide care when and where patients want it while also factoring in linguistics and culture.
Patient satisfaction survey questions must produce outcomes that meet the Triple Aims framework (Berwick, Nolan, and Whittington, 2008). These are:
- Improving the quality of care
- Improving the patient outcome
- Reducing the cost of health care
2. Does the Survey Have Enough Participants?
You need to have 200 responders to keep the margin of error within the acceptable range. That means you would have to reach out to more patients as not everyone will respond.
In one study involving 42 facilities and 242 physicians, the response rate was 3 to 16 percent (Bryant, 2017). But in another study, the response rate was 34.2 percent (Spooner, 2003).
Assume, for instance, that the response rate is 10 percent. In this case, you would need to distribute questionnaires to 2,000 patients. But if the response rate is 30 percent, you only need to reach out to 667 patients.
There are, of course, ways to improve patient satisfaction survey response rates (LaVela and Gallan, 2014).
- Survey mode
- Frequency of feedback
According to NRC Health in a report published in 2019, the preferred modes are:
- Email (55 percent)
- In-person phone call (11 percent)
- Postal mail (10 percent)
Timing is crucial:
- 83 percent of patients prefer providing feedback within days of a care event.
- 19 percent of patients would be happy to provide feedback within minutes.
- 4 percent of patients would be willing to provide feedback after a week or more.
Likewise, the frequency of surveys merits consideration too. At least 44 percent of patients want to provide feedback after each episode of care.
The best time to conduct and improve patient satisfaction survey rate is within minutes or days when patients are more likely to respond.
3. Did the Patient Survey Provide Actionable Data?
After capturing the feedback, acting on each suggestion or pain point might not be practical. But a careful analysis may yield some patterns or trends.
The three possible actions that you can take are:
- Identify problems and fix them
- Seek touchpoints that could use improvement
- Use positive feedback to motivate staff
Why Are Patient Satisfaction Surveys Important to You?
Patient satisfaction surveys help identify gaps and pain points in your facility and services. You can then provide solutions to elevate the patient experience.
Patient surveys are helpful and can provide incredible benefits, such as improving patient experience, acquisition and retention.
1. Improving Experience
The patient-centered model dictates that medical practitioners view patients as partners. And one of the benefits of patient surveys is that they tell you about their experiences. Keep in mind that the entire patient journey usually involves three key stages:
Usually, patients find a healthcare provider and book an appointment. To make it easier, you can make yourself more visible and accessible. For example, provide different methods of contacting you on your website. Including directions to your clinic or facility using Google Maps is also helpful.
After arriving, patients register through a self-service kiosk or the reception counter and then wait for their turn. If the survey showed most patients find the waiting time too long, one solution is to provide virtual queuing. This way, they can go elsewhere to pass the time until prompted to return by the queuing system.
Following up after treatment is essential to patient retention. Besides checking the patient’s well-being, it is also a great time to get feedback casually or methodically through a patient satisfaction survey. Their response lets you see if there are issues that you can fix to improve patient experience, quality of care and efficiency.
2. Increasing Patient Acquisition
A patient satisfaction survey helps you acquire more patients in two ways:
- It shows you care enough to get their feedback, so they are more likely to recommend you to their family and friends.
- Through such surveys, you can fix or enhance the patient journey. A positive experience not only increases their loyalty, but they also unwittingly help spread the good word about you.
3. Increasing Patient Retention
Medical practitioners can lose half of their patient base every five years. While the reasons vary, you can still reduce that number to increase your patient retention rate.
Patient satisfaction surveys help you achieve that by providing valuable insights on improvements. The better the patient experience, the more likely you will keep them.
4. Flagging Possibilities of Medical Malpractice
The risk of medical malpractice is real so getting covered is a necessity. But the benefits of having an insurance policy become handy only after being sued.
Patient satisfaction surveys, by design, are not meant to prevent medical malpractice. That is because most patient surveys occur after treatment. But, at any rate, the survey results may provide insight into ways to reduce malpractice and avoid negligence claims such as not following up.
5. Enhanced Patients’ Well-Being
By improving patient experience, they become more motivated. When satisfaction is high, patients keep appointments, follow medication schedules and are more inclined to follow your treatment recommendations.
Although patient surveys provide tremendous benefits, they also come with some limitations, which could affect accuracy.
1. Distribution Mode
Only 4 percent of patients will respond if you reach out to them more than a week after treatment. That is why more practitioners use the best survey software, such as Rize Reviews, to reach patients promptly.
When patients fill up the answers in front of you, they tend to provide positive feedback as a matter of decency or courtesy. Experiences are also subjective. For the same experience, one may view it as positive, neutral or negative.
3. Uneven Demographics
Generally, patients who answer surveys are either very pleased or upset. As a result, the general picture you see is from extreme ends. It may be inaccurate because only a few with neutral experience answered the questionnaire.
How Do You Measure Patient Satisfaction?
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is a federal agency that provides medicare in the United States. One of its requirements is that all hospitals should conduct a hospital patient satisfaction survey.
There are plenty of patient satisfaction survey examples. But the most widely used is the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS).
The HCAHPS survey seeks to gather feedback on:
- Communication with doctors and nurses
- Responsiveness of hospital staff
- Pain management
- Communication about medicines
- Discharge information
- Cleanliness and quietness of the hospital environment
- Hospital rating
The HCAHPS hospital patient satisfaction survey is for regulatory compliance, but medical institutions and practitioners may have other needs. For that reason, some use third-party survey providers while others create their own or copy one of the available patient satisfaction survey examples.
One thing to note is storing and transmitting patient data must be secure and meet the data privacy regulations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
How To Improve Patient Experience
As a medical practitioner, you may not have much time to manage your reputation. And this is where a leading online reputation management company, like Rize Reviews, can help you improve patient experience, starting with a carefully planned customer experience strategy. You can then use their online reputation management software to launch surveys.
Net Promoter Score Survey
Many people consider the Net Promoter Score (NPS) as the gold standard of customer experience metrics. Its purpose is to determine loyalty and the likelihood of recommending your practice.
Question: How likely would you recommend [you] to a friend or colleague?
Patients can give a rating from 0 (not likely) to 10 (very likely). Based on the response, they fall into any of three categories.
- 9 to 10. Patients are promoters and are usually loyal. They are enthusiastic and would recommend you to their circle of family and friends.
- 7 to 9. Patients are passive, which means they are pretty satisfied with your service. But they are also neutral because they are not loyal enough and may go to other healthcare providers.
- 0 to 6. Patients are detractors. They are not happy with your service and will find other healthcare providers. Some detractors might even discourage others from seeking you – in person or online.
Customer Effort Score Survey
Another survey you can use is the Customer Effort Score (CES) survey. While the NPS measures loyalty and satisfaction using the likelihood of recommendation, the CES uses patient behaviors.
The CES, in essence, lets patients rate the difficulty or ease of your service using a five-point scale. If a patient ranks you as “very easy,” they are most likely loyal. Conversely, a “very difficult” rating means you must identify and resolve the underlying cause.
Customer Satisfaction Score Survey
A Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) survey measures the patients’ satisfaction with your service. Usually, this survey is administered right after the consultation or treatment.
Question: How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the [medical treatment] you received?
While some use a 10-point scale, most choose a five-point scale as follows:
- Very unsatisfied
- Very satisfied
Once gathered, the CSAT score is expressed as a percentage, with 100 percent as “very satisfied.” Some, however, may use an average to produce a Composite Customer Satisfaction Score.
CSAT surveys for patients help you identify these areas for improvement:
- Training medical staff to be more knowledgeable
- Addressing issues that concerns an aspect of the patient’s journey
- Ensuring that you are meeting expectations
What Is Healthcare Online Reputation Management Software?
Being a medical practitioner, you already spend most of your time with patients. So, how can you improve patient experience without spending too much time?
- Option 1. Administer patient experience survey yourself. You can take this step as many patient satisfaction survey examples are online, but it is tedious and time-consuming.
- Option 2. Take advantage of technology by using a healthcare reputation management system. Rize Reviews healthcare reputation management consultants, for instance, can help you create a solid customer experience strategy and use the best survey software to run campaigns.
Patient needs and expectations, if unmet, may lead to negative reviews that harm your reputation. Unfortunately, it is difficult to resolve these issues because there is no way to predict where patients might leave feedback. As a result, many practitioners turn to Rize reputation management consultants. Its advanced healthcare reputation management system can automatically monitor the digital space for mentions of your practice, allowing you to find any complaints early and resolve issues before things get out of hand.
Final Words on Improving Your Medical Practice
There are plenty of patient survey examples online. Yet, time concerns deter medical practitioners from doing patient experience surveys.
The benefits, though, are undeniable:
- Higher patient satisfaction
- Identify problems to improve patient experience
- Increase in patient acquisition and retention
- Promote the well-being of patients
Do not let the lack of time hold you back. Instead, use a healthcare online reputation management system. For more information, call 866.325.0303 or fill out this contact form.