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A necessary part of any marketing strategy is having a firm grasp on the customer experience in order to elevate satisfaction rates. This is especially true in healthcare, when reimbursements rates and growth depend on it. While most patients are happy to write a positive review or complete a patient satisfaction survey about their provider, many don’t. While the cause for patients to not respond can vary, the reason is often a lack of time and a poorly constructed survey.

In order to get an impression of the general patient population, a high response rate is necessary. Many patient surveys are long and can seem tedious to complete. Survey abandon rates can vary drastically when considering the amount of questions as well as the type of questions asked. This can cause a significant limitation in data validity. For example, if only 10% of patients each month respond to a survey, vital data is missing from 90% of patients. It is impossible to get a good idea on what is working and isn’t when the majority of patients aren’t sharing their experience.

Technology has helped where paper surveys have failed. Technology allows organizations to use email or text messaging to provide patients with better access to the survey when they are ready to complete it. Technology also allows the organization to automate reminders, which can drastically increase response rates.

Still, even technology has its’ limitations, especially if the survey is poorly constructed. Instead, healthcare organizations should opt for an automated survey that takes no more than 5 minutes to complete. The best surveys contain 75% scale/rating questions and 25% open-ended questions. A five star rating question should also be included to understand the patients’ overall experience.

When planning a patient survey, it is important to determine what kind of information is needed and how the data received will be used. General surveys provide a good overview of their visit and should provide feedback about every encounter they had with the provider and their staff. Some questions to include are:

  1. How would you rate the quality of care received during your most recent appointment?
  2. Was it easy to schedule your appointment?
  3. Were you greeted in a prompt and friendly manner?
  4. Would you refer a friend to our facility?
  5. How would you rate your overall experience?
  6. What could we have done better?

It is also encouraged that a space be provided for patients to write additional comments if they so choose. If there is a sensitive topic that is not ready to be addressed, it should not be brought up in the survey. If they share an area that needs improvement, such as wait times, measures should be taken to improve, otherwise patients will be less inclined to complete future surveys.

By taking the time to craft a survey that addresses the needs of the organization while providing comprehensive insight into the patients’ experience, one can better understand what is needed to grow. By surveying patients on a regular basis, organizations can take the action necessary to continuously improve patient satisfaction.