If your healthcare organization struggles with issues like patient retention, poor reviews, or low scheduling rates, your patients likely aren’t satisfied with your healthcare services. As a healthcare provider, understanding how to improve your specialized medical care can feel overwhelmingly complex when you’re juggling low resources, high patient volumes, or restrictions from insurance health plans. A properly executed patient satisfaction survey can help you collect actionable feedback so your healthcare staff can learn exactly how to improve the patient experience.

Patient satisfaction surveys can be more challenging than many healthcare providers realize. Asking one simple question will not lead to quality improvement, but you also don’t want to overwhelm patients.

At Weave, we help healthcare organizations improve patient satisfaction with targeted patient feedback. Read on to learn how your hospital or medical facility can effectively conduct patient satisfaction surveys for quality improvement initiatives.

Understanding Patient Satisfaction Surveys

Patient satisfaction surveys are tools used in healthcare to gauge patients’ perceptions and experiences of the health care they receive. The purpose of patient satisfaction surveys is to identify areas of excellence and opportunities for improvement in service delivery.

Patient surveys give valuable feedback to healthcare providers, enabling them to enhance patient care, improve patient outcomes, and maintain high standards of healthcare service. Satisfaction surveys also help in understanding patient needs and expectations, fostering a patient-centered care approach in healthcare facilities.

The Evolution of Patient Satisfaction Surveys

The current patient satisfaction survey landscape has largely evolved from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey (HCAHPS). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) developed HCAHPS to create a more standardized system for capturing patients’ healthcare experiences. The 29-question quality assessment includes a core set of questions and methodological approaches regarding the administration of collected data.

HCAHPS marked the first national, standardized survey system for measuring patient satisfaction in a hospital environment. This evolution from internal feedback mechanisms has provided medical institutions with a patient satisfaction measurement tool on which to base their survey questions. While HCAHPS is meant for the hospital patient population, other medical facilities can use similar survey questions and best practices to assess patient satisfaction at their clinics.

Key Components of an Effective Patient Satisfaction Survey

Effective patient satisfaction surveys contain a few key elements, allowing you to accurately collect patient feedback for actionable change. You must strike the right balance between asking enough questions without overloading the patient. At the same time, you want to gather specific feedback that captures the full picture of your health care.

Here are the key components of an effective patient satisfaction survey:

  • Proper goals: First, you must consider your practice’s goals when generating a patient satisfaction survey. If you have goals of providing quality health care, making that care accessible, and treating patients respectfully, your goals are in the right place for a satisfaction survey.
  • Clear questions: Your patient satisfaction questionnaire must include clear, easy-to-understand questions so you don’t confuse patients and receive mixed results. Do not include double negatives or confusing medical language.
  • Consistent scales: Most patient satisfaction surveys use scale systems that allow patients to rate how strongly they agree with different statements. If you decide to use this approach, be sure to use the same scale system across all questions. For example, you could have 10 equal excellent and 0 equal poor for every question.
  • Focused and brief survey questions: To successfully collect feedback, you must stay focused on the goals we defined above. You can’t ask your patients hundreds of questions, so think about what you actually want to achieve with the survey.
  • Relevance: Your questionnaire must be relevant to improving patient satisfaction. Think about various issues patients may face, then ask relevant questions surrounding them.

A recent survey conducted by our team at Weave found that 30% of patients stopped visiting their healthcare providers in the last 12 months because of anxiety. Based on this survey, a statistically significant way you can boost patient loyalty at your practice is by cutting out anxiety-inducing experiences, such as stressful appointment scheduling and long wait times, by improving communication. Clear and effective communication can boost patient satisfaction while ensuring that patient expectations are in the correct place during their visit.

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Questions To Include in Your Survey

Every healthcare practice will need to include different types of questions in their patient satisfaction questionnaires. For example, secondary care providers cannot rely on the questions included in the HCAHPS sample survey for hospital inpatient satisfaction.

To give you an idea of clear, relevant, and precise questions to include in your patient experience survey, we’ve listed examples below. You could ask most of these questions on a 10-point scale, with 10 being excellent (or strongly agree) and 0 being poor (or strongly disagree). You may choose to leave a few of the questions as open-ended responses or yes-no fields.

  • How would you rate the nursing care you received?
  • How would you rate our healthcare quality?
  • How would you rate your overall satisfaction?
  • Did you receive any ill-treatment from our care providers? [open-ended]
  • Did we provide timely counseling?
  • Were we able to respond to your medical care request?
  • Did our pharmacy staff bill your health insurance plan correctly?
  • Did your healthcare service provider conduct a thorough investigative diagnosis process?
  • Did our medical staff answer your questions quickly and thoroughly?
  • How would you rate the cleanliness of our facility?
  • Did our hospital staff treat you with courtesy and respect?
  • Did your health provider listen carefully to you and explain things clearly?
  • How would you rate the accessibility of our facility?
  • How well do you understand your treatment plan moving forward?
  • How likely are you to schedule another appointment with one of our primary care providers?
  • How would you rate our appointment scheduling and forms system?
  • Did you receive quality health care from our facility?
  • What can we do to improve our patient experience? [open-ended]

Crafting your patient satisfaction survey with these tailored questions ensures you gather essential feedback, enabling you to enhance care and meet your patients’ needs effectively.

Implementing Patient Satisfaction Surveys in Healthcare

Now that you have a better idea of how to create your patient satisfaction survey, let’s dive into implementing your questionnaire. You have a few options for sending out the survey:

  • In-person: Handing out paper surveys in person at your clinic may seem like a simple solution, but you may accidentally skew your results. The person handing out your survey may want to skip giving it to patients who are in a bad mood, which prevents you from receiving thorough survey results.
  • Via mail: To avoid the complications of in-person surveys, clinics often choose to mail the questionnaires to patients. Mailed surveys come at a higher cost and may not have the best response rates.
  • Digitally: Your best bet for implementing a patient satisfaction survey is usually leveraging digital solutions. You could use phone surveys, digital forms, or review collection tools to quickly gather feedback from patients without compromising their convenience. Digital tools also allow you to automatically assess basic metrics.

When implementing your patient satisfaction survey, be sure to consider your sample size as well. You cannot measure patient satisfaction by surveying 10 customers. You must gather feedback from a large, diverse group of patients for well-rounded patient satisfaction survey results.

Overcoming Challenges in Survey Implementation

One of the primary challenges in survey implementation is low response rates. Patients are busy people and often don’t have the time to complete your survey unless you make it easy for them to do so.

You can overcome this challenge by making your patient satisfaction survey easy to access, brief, and convenient. For example, if patients need to mail in results, they likely won’t feel like completing the feedback loop. On the other hand, providing patients with a fast text link to an online feedback form incentivizes satisfied patients to talk about their experience.

Measuring Patient Satisfaction Survey Questionnaire Results To Implement Changes

Patient satisfaction surveys are only useful when you measure the results and use those insights to implement changes. Here are three basic steps for turning your data into useful information:

  1. Calculate weighted responses: You may feel tempted to lump all of the survey responses together into vague insights regarding your overall patient satisfaction, but this won’t get you very far. Instead, use the scoring system to calculate the total scores for each question. For example, you can add up all the scores regarding the success of your nursing care compared to your staff’s technical skills.
  2. Locate underperforming categories in your healthcare delivery: Upon calculating your responses, you can view which categories received low scores to determine your underperforming areas.
  3. Implement changes: Once you know which areas are dragging down your patient satisfaction rates, you can implement changes. For example, if your payment question received low scores, you may need to adopt a better payment system.

Case Studies: Successful Use of Patient Surveys

Clinical case studies show that patient satisfaction surveys support improved patient care.

For example, in the methadone treatment setting, the most critical factors of successful addiction treatment include a patient’s belief that their counselor cares about them and their belief that they can recover. In a recent case study, patient satisfaction surveys supported these critical factors for patients, creating an effective impact.

The Role of Technology in Patient Satisfaction Surveys

Weave’s platform offers multiple touchpoints for engaging with patients, which can be strategically used to gather feedback and enhance the patient experience. Features such as automated appointment reminders, two-way texting, and digital forms allow for seamless communication before and after visits. These interactions provide valuable opportunities to request feedback, understand patient needs, and make improvements.

Incorporate Weave’s communication tools into your patient satisfaction strategy to create a more connected healthcare experience. By improving the ease and quality of interactions, you indirectly gather insights on patient needs and areas for improvement. For instance, utilizing Weave’s digital forms for pre-visit information collection can reduce wait times and improve the check-in process, directly impacting patient satisfaction.

Integrating Surveys Into Patient Communication Platforms

To overcome the issue of low response rates, you must request survey answers from patients at their easiest convenience, such as when they’re already logged into their patient portal. With Weave, you can integrate surveys within your patient communication system for high response rates. Doing so allows you to request patient feedback immediately after users complete various online actions, so they feel more inclined to answer a few brief questions.

Streamline Your Patient Satisfaction Survey Process With Weave

Patient satisfaction surveys are key to improving healthcare quality. Get a demo of Weave today to see how we can streamline your patient satisfaction survey process. 

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