Patient Satisfaction Survey as a Tool Towards Quality Improvement

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When we talk about quality in healthcare, it doesn’t only pertain to the quality of care anymore. Patient expectations have changed, and so have the expected standards of patient satisfaction. In addition to quality, several patients are now even willing to pay more for comprehensive care, which includes everything from communication and technology to infrastructure and hygiene.

To stay competitive, healthcare facilities must know what it is that their patients expect to be able to improve healthcare in a way that all the developments are aligned with patient expectations.

And that’s where patient surveys shine in as one of the most effective tools used to collect patient feedback and improve healthcare quality.

Why Use Patient Satisfaction Surveys for Quality Improvement?

Patient satisfaction surveys are one of the most powerful survey tools for patient feedback collection, which not only derives a satisfaction score but also highlights areas that need improvement. Patient satisfaction surveys help in asking patients directly what it is that they expect and would improve their experience at the facility. Here are the primary metrics that you can measure using patient satisfaction surveys:

  • Accessibility
  • Quality of Care
  • The efficiency of Hospital Staff
  • Healthcare and Other Related Communication
  • Payment & Finance-Related Features
  • Facility and Hygiene
  • Advancement and Use of Technology

Though these are the primary elements that affect patient satisfaction, you can make your surveys as detailed as you want and collect feedback on all the possible metrics.

Now, let’s understand in detail how patient satisfaction surveys can be used. 

The Planning Stage for Quality Improvement 

Efficient planning for patient satisfaction sets the foundation for developing patient satisfaction surveys, facilitating data collection, and assessing data. Here are the main elements of the planning phase:

1. Build a Core Team

A great patient satisfaction strategy is one that benefits all departments, including administration, infrastructure, finance, healthcare, pharmacy, etc. So, to get an all-around perspective of your healthcare business, involve personnel who represent different functions within your facility. A versatile patient satisfaction team will give you insights into various departments, help in identifying performance indicators, and facilitate the application of feedback to improve patient satisfaction

2. Set Goals

Measuring patient satisfaction can be a detailed process, but if you set goals beforehand, it will give you a fair idea about which success elements you must incorporate while measuring feedback. For example, if you wish to optimize your website or mobile app, your survey questionnaire must collect feedback on the interface and functionality of the platform. Similarly, other goals will help you shape your survey strategy and track progress from time to time. 

3. Segment Patients Based on Patient Journey

There are different segments of patients, such as inpatients, outpatients, patients who require lab tests for diagnosis, patients who made appointments using the hospital’s website or app, etc. And each may have different experiences. So, keep in mind that the survey approach may vary for these patient segments. The idea behind this is to make sure that different types of patient surveys are relevant for different segments and are sent at the right time in the customer journey. 

The Feedback Collection Stage

Feedback collection is a critical step that can make or break your patient satisfaction strategy. Here are the important steps that must be followed to ensure a seamless and effective feedback collection process:

1. Identify Omnichannel Responsibilities

Since patients engage with your healthcare business through different channels, such as website, on-site, social media, etc., find out what channels you would need to collect feedback through. For example, your inpatients may prefer providing feedback while they are on the premises, which would require you to collect feedback through mobile, tablet, or kiosk.

For patients who usually use your website to connect, you may require rolling out website surveys. Similarly, you can also send email or SMS surveys post-appointment or treatment to capture feedback data.

2. Select a Patient Survey Tool

A patient survey platform must be aligned with your business requirements. For example, if you wish to send a survey via multiple channels, you will need an omnichannel survey tool. Similarly, you can compare other business requirements against leading survey tools and find out which one works best for you.

Here are a few features you might need in your patient survey software:

  • A smart survey builder that doesn’t require technical expertise to build surveys
  • Skip logic availability to make surveys relevant for different patient segments
  • Omnichannel survey capability
  • Reporting and analysis for insight generation
  • Personalization and Branding
  • Survey automation

3. Create Surveys

You must create patient satisfaction surveys with the goal of maximizing the response rate. So, here are some useful tips to create effective surveys:

  • Consider using Yes/No (Dichotomous) questions wherever possible.
  • Keep the survey short and relevant.
  • Use skip logic to make surveys relevant.
  • Personalize surveys so that respondents know that the survey is designed specifically to take their input.
  • Use branding so that respondents can be assured that the survey request is from a trusted source.

4. Distribute Surveys & Collect Patient Feedback

Once you create surveys, the most important task that remains is choosing the best time to send surveys. For example, if a patient uses your web portal or app to make an appointment, it can be followed by a web or in-app survey to measure success in terms of accessibility. Inpatients can be asked to take surveys on mobile, tablet, or kiosk while they are on the premises.

Similarly, you can share SMS or email surveys post patients’ visit to the facility or post-treatment to measure satisfaction. Just keep in mind that the surveys are sent when the experience is still fresh in your patients’ minds.

Taking Action To Improve Quality

Once the patient feedback is collected, it is time to act on the data and use it to implement changes that can elevate patient satisfaction. Here’s how you can do it:

1. Analyze Feedback

Patient data is of no use unless it can be extracted into insightful reports. So, make sure your survey tool offers this functionality.

Effective reporting will help you and your team find out:

  • Patient expectations
  • Areas of improvement
  • Repeated complaints and suggestions
  • High-priority patient feedback

So, use this data to create a recovery plan to improve healthcare quality and patient satisfaction.

2. Close the Feedback Loop

One of the most important parts of quality improvement in healthcare is letting patients know that their feedback is valuable to you. They must know that the feedback is actually being acted on, which will encourage them to always take your surveys and will also establish loyalty among your patients. Here are a few things you can do to close the feedback loop:

  • Follow up with unsatisfied patients to know more about their bad experience
  • Always give patients a clear timeline of when their issue will be resolved.
  • Let patients know when their issues are resolved.
  • Offer an apology if you cannot work on the feedback immediately.
  • Offer rewards or discounts as a token of apology.

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Written by Sonika