Should you conduct a patient survey?

Find out whether patient surveys are worth the time and expense.

Q: Are patient surveys generally worth the time and expense? It's easy enough to have patients fill out survey forms when they visit, but I wonder whether paying someone (even a member of my own staff) to tally up all the responses and try to analyze the results would really be worth it, because it seems like people always put so little thought into those types of surveys.

A: Surveys are valuable if you ask the right questions and have the results sent to what appears to be an outside third-party evaluator so patients don't think staff members will know if they say something negative about a particular staff member. But you must honestly evaluate the results and act properly to correct problems. If no problems are discovered, the value is minimal to none. If a hidden problem is found, the results could save your practice, just like lab tests for patients. There are online services that will do everything for you at minimal cost, such as one offered by the American Academy of Family Physicians at

Answers to readers' questions were provided by A. Michael LaPenna, The LaPenna Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Keith Borglum, Professional Management and Marketing, Santa Rosa, California. Send your practice management questions to

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