Patient Satisfaction Survey

How to Effectively Design and Use a Patient Satisfaction Survey

The doctor-patient relationship centers around good communication, and for medical practices to succeed that openness needs to extend beyond the exam room.

Referrals and word of mouth are particularly powerful for patients looking for new doctors, so you want to make sure you’re getting rave reviews from existing patients.

Patient satisfaction surveys allow your patients to offer you feedback directly and immediately instead of posting it in online reviews. These surveys hook you into the pulse of your patient satisfaction levels so you can make sure they don’t flat line.

Patient Satisfaction Surveys: Anonymous, Concise, Actionable

You’ll achieve a better completion rate and higher levels of candor if your survey is anonymous. Patients will be more likely to offer truly actionable feedback if they know you will not track the response back to them.

Keeping your survey as concise as possible will also increase your response rate.

Limit the number of questions on your survey by only asking questions that will give you actionable feedback in areas where you are capable of making changes.

Collaboration from your office staff may be helpful in deciphering which questions to ask.

Keep in mind that the interaction with the doctor is just one aspect of the visit. When surveying patients it’s important to evaluate the entire experience from setting up the appointment, to walking into the door, to leaving at the end of the appointment.

To determine the most important questions to ask, put yourself in the shoes of your patient. What do you value in your own physician experience that can translate into a better exam for your patients?

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Questions To Ask In a Patient Satisfaction Survey

Before you get to questions, be sure to incorporate text stating that you will keep the survey’s contents anonymous, and will use it to improve your services. It’s important to be clear and candid about the purpose of the survey.

Begin the survey by gathering basic demographic details about your respondents, such as age, sex, ethnicity, income level, and any other factors that might impact their experience in your office.

Radio buttons are a great way to quickly move through these standard questions, since they will let patients only select one option from a list you create.

You should also determine whether they are a new or returning patient, as this may influence how they perceive your office.

When it comes more subjective questions about their appointment, you may want to employ a ranking question such as a Likert Scale to allow respondents to assign a value to their experience.

These types of questions ask people rank things on a scale that often runs from “Strongly Agree” to “Strongly Disagree.” Some areas where this type of question may be useful are:

  • Hours of Operation
  • Appointment Availability
  • Office Location
  • Office Cleanliness
  • Amount of time you waited in office to see physician

If you have multiple staff members who interact with patients, you can use a custom table to rate each of your staff members on areas such as attentiveness, knowledge, and friendliness.

Custom tables are useful because they allow you to group similar questions together and reduce the length of your survey overall. However, they can become overwhelming if used too frequently.

So if you have a large staff you may want to ensure that not every employee appears in your table. Employing survey logic, which displays questions only if particular conditions are met, can go a long way to making sure that respondents get only questions that are relevant to their personal experience.

NPS questions can also be enlightening, particularly for a referral-driven industry like medicine. These scale questions ask how likely a patient would be to recommend your office to a friend, and can include the option to give free form input on why they provided the answer that they did.

The score that they provide will categorize respondents as detractors, promoters, or passives, and you can then track how many of each type of response you get over time. This provides an excellent gauge for how your patient satisfaction improves (or declines) as you make adjustments to your office.

Finally, be sure to include an open text question near the end of your survey. Here you should ask if there was anything that could have made the office visit experience any better.

Open text questions are gold mines of suggestions for how to create an “above and beyond” treatment for your patients.

HIPAA Compliance and Patient Satisfaction Surveys

Strictly speaking, patient satisfaction surveys are not about a patient. Therefore they shouldn’t include any Personal Health information that would require HIPAA compliance.

To make sure you’re staying within these limitations, make sure your patient satisfaction survey is purely about getting feedback on the overall experience to improve your medical practice.

Remember, asking any personal health information in conjunction with identifying information requires HIPAA Compliant procedures.

For more information, please see: HIPAA Compliance Requirements. It’s up to you to make sure that you are following all legal guidelines, so please check in with your legal department before administering any survey of this nature.

Check In With Patient Satisfaction Periodically

Just like you expect your patients to visit you periodically for optimal health, you should regularly check in with their experiences to ensure their experiences are at their best.

Patient satisfaction surveys are an efficient tool for performing regular checks so that your patients’ visits are in top notch health.

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