Patient Satisfaction Surveys

5 Questions You Should Ask in Patient Satisfaction Surveys

A recent trend in healthcare has been prioritizing patient-centered care, which means focusing on boosting communication between the patient, their family, and the medical professional. Open communication between all involved parties increases the likelihood of a positive outcome and patient satisfaction. 

A crucial part of increasing patient satisfaction is the implementation of patient satisfaction surveys. The responses to the questions asked in these surveys provide the hospital or practice and the medical professionals involved with valuable patient feedback. You can use this feedback to point out failings in areas like the patient’s perception of the medical care given or the responsiveness of hospital staff. These changes can help you improve your patient satisfaction rate.  

The trick to success with these questionnaires is to ask the right patient satisfaction survey questions. The wrong questions will not give you the information you need to improve patient satisfaction and may even steer you in the wrong direction. This article will provide examples of the best types of patient satisfaction survey questions to ask to get the most informative feedback from patients. 

Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Sending Patient Satisfaction Surveys 

The more information you have at your disposal, the more accurately you can make decisions and enact positive changes. When you ask the right questions, patient satisfaction surveys can give you and your staff all of the information you need to move toward a more positive, patient-centered approach to healthcare. 

Some fear that the process of asking patients for feedback — positive or negative — will encourage them only to respond if they have negative things to say. The reality is that by asking the questions of patients yourself, you can control who has access to the information you gather. 

You can provide a short patient satisfaction questionnaire when patients check out. By keeping it short — say five carefully selected and composed questions — you should be able to get patients to complete a survey before they leave the office.  

Honest Feedback Refines Future Care Experience  

Using patient feedback from the patient satisfaction questionnaire, doctors and staff can adjust their behavior and techniques to meet the needs of their patients in all aspects of care. These changes should begin the journey towards improving patient satisfaction. 

Real-Time Feedback Means Efficient Improvement of Care 

Another advantage to offering a patient satisfaction survey to your patients before they leave the office is getting real-time patient feedback that you can act on immediately. There is no need to send out emails and wait for responses. Patient surveys done in the office can be collated daily, and changes can be made by the next day if warranted. 

Positive Reviews Reveal the Right Staff Service 

Patient satisfaction surveys work out well for your office regardless of whether the patient has positive or negative responses. If the patient satisfaction scores are low, keep those responses in a file for your next staff meeting where the issues can be brought up and discussed. As an additional incentive, patients who have the opportunity to leave negative feedback right at the office are less likely to take the time to do so later on your practice’s website or a review site where anyone can view it. 

If the patient satisfaction scores are high, it might be good to contact those patients and ask them to leave a review for your practice on whichever review site is most likely to be viewed by prospective patients. Set the best reviews or those that mention specific individuals in a positive light aside to bring up some positive feedback at your next meeting to let the staff members and medical professionals involved know that their work is appreciated. 

What Questions Should You Ask on a Patient Satisfaction Survey? 

The success or failure of any patient satisfaction survey program depends on the questions you put in it. Ask the right questions, and you will get a wealth of information about improving your patients’ perception of you, your staff, and the practice as a whole. Ask the wrong questions, and you will still get a lot of information, but it may not help you improve anything. 

For best results, you will want to choose a combination of open-ended questions, those that the patient answers in their own words, and ratings-based questions, which give the patient a range of scores to choose from. 

Open-Ended Questions 

Open-ended questions take a bit more time to sort through, and there is always the chance that certain patients will not answer the questions. In some cases, the patient’s response may not fit clearly into the positive or negative column, but you can still learn lessons from them. 

One insider’s tip: Limit the amount of space your patients have to answer the open-ended questions. If you give them too much space, they will provide lengthier answers than are necessary to provide you with the information you need.  

The following are examples of effective open-ended patient satisfaction survey questions. 

Why Did You Choose Our Medical Practice? 

This is an important question because you may begin to see a pattern as the number of responses builds. If customers use specific review sites to choose your practice, you know to focus your PR efforts there. Or, if patients are finding you through referrals from other healthcare professionals, you should take the time to reach out to them to say thanks. Doing so lets them know you appreciate their efforts and keeps you in the forefront of their minds the next time a patient needing a referral to your specialty comes along. 

Even if many of your patients respond that they chose your practice based on referrals from friends or family, this is still helpful. It lets you know that your approach to medicine fosters trust and confidence in your patients, and you should continue to interact with your patients similarly. 

Can You Tell Us About Your Healthcare Experience? 

This is a very broad question by design. It gives the patient the chance to talk about the aspects of care that mattered the most to them. You can learn a lot not just by whether they count their experience as positive or negative but also by which parts of their experience they choose to talk about. 

If, for example, they choose to complain about the amount of time they had to wait before being seen by the doctor, you gain two valuable insights. First, you may want to adjust your scheduling practices to shorten patient wait times. Second, if that was their biggest complaint, then the rest of the visit went well. 

How Can We Make Your Patient Experience Better Next Time? 

This broad question provides insight into what matters most to your patients. By giving them input into improving the patient experience, you enable them to make suggestions without being negative. 

Some patients may ask you to fix any negative feedback they had in the previous question, but this question gives even those who did not have anything negative a chance to discuss how to improve things. Using the wait time example, even a patient who did not list the wait time as a negative would now have the chance to suggest that perhaps wait times could be made shorter. 

Ratings-Based Survey Questions 

Ratings-based survey questions may not give you much insight into your patients’ priorities, but they are much easier to process and quantify. Combining the two types of questions is the most effective way to get the most data with the least amount of effort for your patients and your staff. 

A predetermined rating system should follow ratings-based questions. You can use numbers (one through 10), stars (often one through five), smiley faces, or anything that fits your practice’s specialty and culture. 

For instance, a veterinarian’s office may want to use dog tails as their rating system, with one tail being terrible service and five wagging tails being top-notch. 

The following are examples of ratings-based patient satisfaction surveys. 

What Would You Rate the Quality of Care Provided? 

The patient’s rating here tells you how important the positive or negative answers to the open-ended questions were. For example, if the patient who complained about the wait time left you a good rating here, then the wait time was not the most critical aspect of their visit. If, however, they had no other complaints but left you a low rating, then the amount of time they spent in the waiting room was a significant factor in their experience. 

For greater insight into your patients’ experiences, the responses to this question on all collected surveys can be added together and averaged. This will give you an overall view of how your patients feel about your practice and approach to medicine. If the average is high, keep doing what you are doing. If the average is low, look to the answers to the previous questions to discover steps you could take to improve the practice or hospital environment and/or the interactions between you and your patients. 

How Likely Are You To Recommend Us? 

Question responses will provide insight into how much confidence your patients have in your abilities and how much they trust your judgment. These are vital aspects of the patient/doctor relationship. If you rate low here, you need to improve the communication between you and your patients and take steps to build relationships with each of them. 

Why Healthcare Practices Turn to Patient Engagement Software 

Patient engagement software can be a highly effective way to improve patient satisfaction. Improved patient experiences enhance patient outcomes and allow you to rake in positive reviews. 

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