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3 reasons your practice should use patient satisfaction surveys

June 29, 2020
The results of a patient satisfaction survey

Conducting patient satisfaction surveys may not be at the top of your priority list–but it should be. Satisfaction surveys provide your practice with valuable insights on patient experience and practice operations. By leveraging these insights your practice can improve the patient-practice connection while making continuous improvements to business operations. Here are a just a few reasons you should consider patient satisfaction surveys:

1. Check the pulse of your patients

The doctor-patient relationship is the foundation of great clinical care. If that relationship is strong, it can lead to more patient engagement and better health outcomes. It is essential to understand the factors that influence this relationship and that’s where surveys can help.

By creating a feedback loop with surveys, practices can identify areas that they thought were working well but are not in the eyes of the patient. You can uncover patients that are unhappy with their care, hone in on why, and work with them toward a solution – instead of having them abandon your practice.

2. Show you care

If you ask for someone’s opinion, it sends a message that you care. So, when you reach out to your patients to get their feedback, it indicates an interest in creating a dialog. Happy patients will stick with your practice. They will also recommend you to friends, family, and co-workers.

Surveys make patients feel that they are being valued and appreciated. Asking questions regularly can increase patient satisfaction levels. Surveys can also help bolster your online reputation with positive reviews.

3. Improve your quality program attestation

If your practice is participating in MIPS, surveys can be used to help meet the Improvement Activities category. Improvement Activities account for 15% of your overall MIPS performance ratings. Providers must participate and submit in 2-4 improvement activities to receive the maximum 40 points in this performance category. Surveys are considered a medium-weighted activity that will give the practice 10 points (some exceptions apply).

To learn more about MIPS requirements, visit CMS.

Designing the perfect patient satisfaction survey

To get the most from surveys, it is important that you select the most effective survey questions. It is more than simply asking a series of questions. First you need to ask yourself, “What are my goals with the survey?”

Are you looking for feedback to help make improvements in workflows? Patient experience? Feedback on a specific provider? Meet quality program requirements? Or some other aspect of the practice? Understanding your goals will help shape the type of survey you create.

If you want to get good answers, then you need to ask good questions. Generally, the best questions to ask are closed-ended. Close-ended questions are faster and easier to answer for patients. Having a predefined set of answers also allows for easy data analysis post survey. Open-ended questions can be included, but we recommend limiting them in the survey.

Don’t ask leading questions, they can influence how your patients respond. For example, “We think our doctors are great. How great do you think they are?” is a leading question. You are applying your opinion to the question which can influence how the patient responds. Instead, you want to make the question neutral to get the most honest response.

Update the question to say, “Please rate your visit experience with the Doctor.” Better yet, personalize the question to the specific doctor they have seen, “Please rate your visit experience with Dr. Jones.”

If you are using scales/rankings in your survey, keep them consistent. Best practice is to use a 5-point scale. Using the example above your response set might look like this:

Please rate your visit experience with Dr. Jones.

  • 1 – Excellent
  • 2 – Good
  • 3 – Fair
  • 4 – Poor
  • 5 – Very Poor

Please rate the efficiency of the check-in process.

  • 1 – Excellent
  • 2 – Good
  • 3 – Fair
  • 4 – Poor
  • 5 – Very Poor

Only ask one question at a time. For example, don’t ask them to rank the check-in process and cleanliness of the reception area in the same question. This is called a double-barreled question and can create survey confusion. The answer might not be the same for both, so you are creating a false response by combining them.

Add variety to your question types to help avoid survey fatigue. If you are asking the same type of question over and over that can lead to “straight-lining” where the patient selects the same answer for every question just to get through it. By adding variety to your question types, you can help avoid that. For example, you might have a ranking question followed by a multiple-choice question.

Surveys should also be brief. Don’t try to get all your answers in one shot. It can create a burden for your patient causing lower response rates. Instead of building that good will by asking for their opinion, you could be annoying your patient.

Lastly, don’t make all questions required. There may be areas of your survey that are not relevant to a patient. Allow them to skip those areas by not requiring those questions. Forcing them to answer something that does not apply to them can lead to survey skew.

Partner for success with patient satisfaction surveys

Surveys are a great way to get the pulse of your patients and uncover operational inefficiencies in your practice. But coordinating, designing, and launching them might seem overwhelming, particularly to an already busy team.

There are several patient engagement tools available that can help you streamline this process. Many vendors have survey modules with pre-made templates that can help you deploy surveys in your practice with a few clicks of a button. An added benefit, most of these surveys are administered via technology (not paper) further streamlining the collection process and fast-tracking data analysis.

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