There is a razzmatazz of information available everywhere and it might get tough to find out which one is credible and which isn’t. You’ll have to wade through a lot of information before arriving at the right one. The right information is more pivotal in an industry like healthcare where using wrong information can result in being sued for millions or killing your patients. None of these situations is ideal anywhere.
As a business, you would also need to know what your patients think of your treatment, the facilities provided, and so on. This is why you need to conduct a patient satisfaction survey which will help you improve your processes. The patient satisfaction survey results can help in bringing better care for your patients and greater ROI for your business. It can drastically change the way you do business. No matter how big an organization you are, keeping your customers satisfied is pivotal to the existence of it.
Why should you conduct patient satisfaction surveys?
Before we harp on why we should conduct patient satisfaction surveys, let’s understand what patient satisfaction is. It is a performance measure of health care quality. While it is a subjective aspect and depends on the patient’s perception, it is difficult to measure or define. This is why conducting patient satisfaction surveys are considered as a means to convert subjective opinions into quantifiable data.
By measuring patient satisfaction, you will be able to get meaningful information from patients who are reliable. The patient satisfaction survey measures the environment of the hospital, staff’s care, technical skill, and communication.
Once you work on all the bottlenecks that affect your business, you will be able to spend time and money on resources that need streamlining, thereby increasing your revenue.
There have been numerous studies that say how costly it is to get a new customer while it is much easier to make your existing customer use your services. Build a relationship with the patient based on the way you treat them. When you work on the feedback given by the customer, you would be inadvertently retaining customers making them more loyal to you.
How to design a patient satisfaction survey
#1 Know what your objectives are
Identifying why you want to do something is the first step towards ensuring its success. The same goes when you are designing a patient satisfaction survey. You need to find out which are the areas that you want to improve. The survey results might give you starkly different responses from what your expectations would have been. But it is always wise to be well prepared so that you can have crystal-clear answers.
Would you like to know why the patient wait times are longer?
Are your patients given adequate information about all the procedures?
Can patients access their health records with ease?
Is there a way to improve consultation time?
These can be some of the aspects of patient satisfaction that you might want to ponder upon.
Instead of concentrating on finding how satisfied your customers, find out how they could improve a particular experience. For example, instead of asking “How satisfied are you with the experience”, ask “How satisfied are you with the time taken to complete the entire process from consultation to cure?” This angle of questioning can lead to more actionable points that you can use to close the feedback loop.
Also, it is important that you decide about the line of questioning. Are you going to ask them about their overall experience with the brand or concentrate on disparate sets of treatment? If you were to pick on specific sets of treatment, you might get responses that border on either of the extremes because the patient either had a good or bad experience while the general experience of the patient is usually based upon the overall treatment.
#2 Draft survey questions
Remember that there are no questions for a patient satisfaction survey that can be used universally. It should be drafted on a case-by-case basis. Here are a few tips on drafting the right questions for a patient satisfaction survey.
Make sure the questions relate to patient satisfaction
While you can ask any type of question to the patient, ensure that it revolves around their satisfaction. It could contain questions on the patient’s care, the care, and effort put in by the staff, general treatment methodologies, swiftness in action, etc. Questions revolving around these areas are a good ground to start your patient satisfaction survey.
Sample questions you can ask in the Patient Satisfaction Survey
The questions should be worded in such a way that it should fetch useful feedback from your customers. This is why you need to word your questions properly. Here are a few sample questions that you can use. These questions will give you a better understanding when you try to frame your patient satisfaction survey questionnaire.
‘How satisfied are you with the cleanliness of the facility?’
‘Were the staff courteous towards you?’
‘Are you happy with the way your issue was dealt with?’
‘Were you given proper information at each stage?’
‘Was your experience with the facility smooth?’
‘How seamless was the entire process from being admitted until discharge?’
‘Did you feel as if you were given the best service?’
‘Did the doctors treat you well?’
‘Will you refer your friends and family to this hospital again?’
These are just sample questions that you can use. But for the more specific type of information, you need to modify your questions accordingly.
Use different options
Instead of asking a Yes or No question to gauge the satisfaction of patients, it is better to give them a variety of options such as- extremely satisfied, satisfied, not satisfied, extremely dissatisfied. We would advise you not to use the Neutral option as you want to understand the feelings of your patients more accurately rather than a neutral answer which doesn’t really help.
If one of the questions in the patient satisfaction survey uses a 5-point scale, please make sure the other questions follow the same format too. Using a 7- point scale might confuse your respondents. Apart from putting the respondent in a fix, it also becomes difficult to measure when you have all the responses collated.
“Would you recommend our hospital to a friend or family member?”
If they are open to recommending your service to a friend or a family member, you can safely assume that they are extremely satisfied with your service.
Add a comments section
Give the chance for your patients to add comments in the survey so that they can add their feelings in their own words instead of relying upon the choice that you give them. It will help them articulate what they feel in graphic detail so that you have a clear picture of what is bothering them.
Keep your surveys short and simple. Your patients will not be happy to respond to a lot of questions that will take up their time. When taking surveys, ensure that you follow the KISS methodology. Abbreviated as Keep It Short and Simple, this should be the mantra to follow when deciding on the number of questions to ask for your patient satisfaction survey.
Ask clear questions
In continuation with the previous point where we asked you to keep your questions short and simple, here is another piece of advice, ensure that they are clear and do not confuse the respondent. It should not be vague and the respondent should be able to respond to it without much of an afterthought.
#3 Choose the right channel:
Depending on the number of patients and the kind of access you have with them, it is imperative that you choose the most relevant channel in which you send the survey questions. While you can ask them over phone, mail or get them to your office, the smartest option would always be sending your patient satisfaction survey over email using a tool like SurveySparrow.
Online survey tools not only simplify the process, but you can also view the results in different formats including graphs, pie charts, bars, etc. You can use conditional logic to segment customers based on the experiences that are unique to them. It is impossible to collate so much information via phone calls or in-person interviews.
In-person interviews can give you a much clearer picture but relying on them to survey a lot of patients is practically impossible. Draft the survey in such a way so that it takes minimum time.
#4 Ponder over the results
Once you have the results in front of you, now is the time to make changes based on the feedback received. Gather all the stakeholders and discuss the different departments whose work has a bearing on the feedback.
If there is an improvement in your current feedback scores, you need to list down the changes made and see if you can extrapolate it across the entire system. If not, see if there are other areas where there is scope for a lot of improvement.
Continue this exercise for each of the departments relating to patient satisfaction and take immediate steps to make things right. Discuss the various steps for addressing the concerns of the patients. Since the feedback would involve comments about the staff, it is pivotal that you handle it sensitively.
Make use of the comments section in the survey form where you can find detailed responses from the patients. Expedite the work based on the comments here. When your customers (read patients) have taken the time to write a detailed review, it is imperative that you respect their feedback and work on it.
#5 Close the feedback loop
Understand the various issues that your patients face based on the feedback from your patient satisfaction survey, and then take action. Closing the feedback loop is all about asking followup questions based on the survey answers and working on the feedback given.
Create a list of changes that you want to make, outline how you want to take action and have a timeline before which you complete the entire process. Giving yourself an ultimatum will help you stick to a time duration.
You can expect a lot of resistance from the workers when you make changes to the operational procedures followed for a long time. But you have to make them understand the importance of the patient satisfaction survey and why you need to close the feedback loop. Once they are able to understand the importance as well, it will be smooth sailing.