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How to use patient surveys to improve your healthcare service

Patient surveys are a key driver for enhancing the patient experience and meeting regulatory requirements around patient satisfaction. Find out what patient surveys you can use across the patient journey and what questions can you ask to drive action across the organization.

What are patient surveys?

Patient surveys are surveys that ask specific questions about the patient’s experience. They are designed to create a crucial connection between healthcare staff and patients.

Capturing feedback from patients and families is critical to a positive healthcare experience. The voice of the patient helps the industry understand how the experience of its services is helping the overall customer experience.

A patient’s viewpoint helps providers see the complete picture of the healthcare quality and experience, checking in to see if the right standards were achieved.

They can be used in different scenarios in healthcare, to get the most out of each interaction. Some instances where patient surveys may be used include:

  • Health risk assessments: These are patient surveys that often appear at the start of a patient and care provider relationship. The questions in these surveys can help understand the patient’s background and identify any medical health risks.
  • Patient satisfaction: This type of patient survey can help assess different components of the patient experience, including how the patient felt during the appointment, what the facilities were like, or how involved they felt in the decision-making of their care. This process of measuring patient satisfaction will determine whether patients return to your healthcare facility.
  • Post-care or discharge surveys: This patient satisfaction survey can come after an appointment or post-care regime has been completed, so that the patient can give feedback on their health status after treatment, request more information, or more help.
  • Assessing the effects of medication: Patient surveys can give you an insight into how the patient is responding to their treatment. It can raise adverse reactions and help monitor them so they receive the correct treatment plan. Ensuring you assess patient satisfaction through these surveys is vital to a business.

Why are patient satisfaction surveys important?

Patient surveys can help healthcare providers to cope with rapidly shifting public circumstances, like COVID-19. This gives healthcare providers a safe, remote way to monitor patient healthcare.

Healthcare providers have to manage the patient experience, capture feedback, and act upon it to improve services. This can also have direct financial implications as patient experience scores can impact their healthcare reimbursements.

In addition, patient surveys form an integral part of experience management (XM), the discipline of using both experience data (X-data) and operational data (O-data) to measure and improve the four core experiences of any business: customer, employee, product, and brand.

With a positive patient experience correlating with better clinical processes and outcomes,  healthcare providers need to urgently put this process in place.

What questions to ask patients in a patient survey?

Traditionally, operational metrics (O-data) such as safety events, clinical outcomes, throughput measures, and financials have been analyzed separately from patient experience results.

Going forward, companies need to combine their O-data with experience data (X-data), such as patient experience and employee experience, to drive comprehensive improvement across a health system.

The combination of X and O-data will help break down silos, improve quality, and encourage real change by providing a more holistic view of how these factors interact.

O-data describes “what” is happening and X data answers the question “why;” both components are needed to better identify and address the root causes underlying performance issues.

Some O-data questions are:

  • What are your thoughts about your appointment?
  • Did you feel the doctor spent the right amount of time with you?
  • Did you feel like your questions were fully answered?

Some X-data questions are:

  • Why did you enter that ranking as your answer?
  • Where could improvements be made in the service you received?
  • Why would you recommend this doctor to future patients?

How to get started with patient surveys

The patient survey needs to be designed for client-focus

No matter which type of patient survey you use, it should meet the patient’s needs, be clear and accessible, and be written with objectivity in mind.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this patient survey use clear and uncomplicated language to allow patients of all backgrounds to understand what is being asked?
  • Is this survey written in the right language to suit the target patient demographic?
  • Is there any opportunity for misunderstanding what the questions are?
  • Are the sections of the survey headed and formatted so that patients can understand what each section is about?
  • Are any of these questions written in a way that could be biased or leading?

Use the best method for sending patient survey

Think about how you want to administer patient surveys and which ways your patients would complete them. The HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) helped embed strict rules and regulations around how organizations collect and report patient survey data in the US.

In this system, surveys are traditionally administered by mail only, telephone, mail with telephone follow-up, and/or Active Interactive Voice Response (IVR), and can only be sent to patients between 48-hours and six weeks post-discharge.

However, you can choose to adhere to these guidelines which will be known to patients, while also adding in other patient surveys where additional touch-point interactions occur, to monitor the outcome of these. For example, a pre-appointment health risk assessment would be completed pre-appointment.

Discover healthcare professionals in the industry that have successfully enhanced the patient experience here.

Use professional survey software for a holistic view of the patient journey

Improving patient satisfaction is simple with the correct data and analysis.  To make the most out of your data, use a survey software platform that helps collect all insights from patients quickly in one platform, makes creating and sending out simple and quick and analyses the results so you don’t have to.

The Qualtrics Experience Management Platform™ supplies your organization with the insights you need to connect the dots between every part of the business, design experiences that delight every stakeholder and close the loop with patients, suppliers and employees.

Healthcare professionals can leverage Qualtrics’ centralized platform in which they can administer and analyze both regulatory survey results and patient feedback from key touchpoints across the entire patient journey.

Rather than a siloed and fragmented understanding, you’ll get a holistic view allowing for insights that lead to action and address root causes.

You can rest assured your sensitive patient and employee data is safe and secure. Qualtrics is an authorized and approved HCAHPS vendor, HITRUST and FedRAMP compliant and configurable to meet HIPAA requirements.

See a demo of our Patient Customer Experience solution

Qualtrics // Experience Management

Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, is a cloud-native software platform that empowers organizations to deliver exceptional experiences and build deep relationships with their customers and employees.

With insights from Qualtrics, organizations can identify and resolve the greatest friction points in their business, retain and engage top talent, and bring the right products and services to market. Nearly 20,000 organizations around the world use Qualtrics’ advanced AI to listen, understand, and take action. Qualtrics uses its vast universe of experience data to form the largest database of human sentiment in the world. Qualtrics is co-headquartered in Provo, Utah and Seattle.

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