4 tips to amplify your patient satisfaction surveys

September 28, 2018

A patient satisfaction survey can help you build a satisfying and cohesive experience for patients – if you can get patients to take it.

Patient satisfaction surveys are growing in popularity among healthcare organizations as the U.S. health system continues its transition to value-based care. If done right, your patient satisfaction survey can be a key player in building a satisfying and cohesive experience for patients. It can help you discover hidden issues or gems in your organization and identify which aspects of care – facility appearance, provider approachability, cost, convenience, etc. – are most important to patients.

There’s just one catch: convincing patients to complete your surveys can be tough. To get the most out of your patient satisfaction surveys, follow these four tips:

Provide a compelling “why”

Even if your survey takes only five minutes to complete, you’re still asking busy people to willingly give up their time. If you don’t want to be ignored, you need to give patients a good reason to take your survey.

In the communication accompanying your survey, let patients know that you care about their experience at your facility and will take their feedback seriously. Tell them their feedback plays a vital role in improving quality of care for all patients and make it clear that you want to provide a best-in-class environment and service.

Keep surveys brief

It’s best to keep your surveys concise and simple. The longer and more complex a survey is, the less likely people are to participate. Also, if the survey is short and easy-to-understand, you’ll typically get better, and clearer, feedback from patients.

According to research conducted by Ypulse, one out of every seven survey takers abandons surveys at the 13-minute mark. Once surveys reach 20 minutes, one out of every three surveys are abandoned. 

Keep surveys short and to the point to elicit stronger response rates.

Avoid paper surveys

Although the healthcare industry is a bit behind on the digital revolution, patients are not. For instance, according to the 2016 InstaMed Trends in Healthcare Payments report, 58 percent of patients polled wanted to pay their healthcare bills online, yet 86 percent still received bills only via mail. Patients expect the ease and convenience of completing surveys and other healthcare paperwork on their mobile devices. Thus, a paper survey will be met with disdain.

An online survey is user-friendly and much easier to manage than a paper survey. Patients can complete the survey whenever it is convenient for them, and all submitted data is housed in an organized database for easy analysis.

Follow up quickly

Surveys should be sent as soon as possible after the care experience-typically within 48 hours. This allows patients to respond to the survey while their experience is still top of mind.

Sending timely surveys can also help you maintain a good reputation. If you have a patient who is highly dissatisfied with his or her experience, the survey will alert you early on so you can attempt to help the patient recover from the negative experience as soon as possible.

Chris Byers is the CEO of Formstack, an Indianapolis-based company offering an online form and data-collection platform. Prior to Formstack, Byers co-founded an international nonprofit that was built via remote relationships among partners in Europe, Africa, and the United States.