Surveys are one of many means of gathering information from existing and potential customers or patients. While not necessarily as in-depth as focus groups, they can reach a much broader audience and can be far less expensive and time-consuming. And, when done well, they also provide a quantitative look at issues of importance to audiences of interest.
In a 2014 article for The Profitable Practice written by Jamie Smith titled, “How You Can Use Patient Satisfaction Surveys to Improve Performance,” which cites the Medical Group Management Association’s (MGMA) 2013 benchmarking report, Smith writes, “nearly 80 percent of the practices [the MGMA] identified as ‘better-performing’ used patient satisfaction surveys. These high performers were more likely to survey their patients, and to do so more frequently compared to other practices.”
Smith’s article goes on to offer some tips and industry best practices for healthcare surveys that are worth review for any healthcare marketer:
Have the End in Mind
When you set out to compile your survey, you should be thinking in advance of what you hope to get out of your survey. While that may seem obvious, it’s often overlooked. “Many practices survey patients without a clear idea of why they’re collecting feedback and how they plan to use the responses they collect,” Smith says.
Some common areas of focus cited by Smith are:
- Access to care
- Quality of care
- Coordination of care
- Confidence in providers
- Appointment experience
However, healthcare providers obviously shouldn’t feel limited to these areas, and if there are specific areas of concern or emphasis, those should be included as well.
Be Thorough in Getting Your Survey Out
Marketers often have trouble getting a large, representative sample of responses back from surveys, so it’s important to use multiple distribution methods to get as much exposure and responsiveness as possible. Depending on the target audience, your organization may need to spend some time finding the right balance between cost and responsiveness. For example, paper surveys often get higher response rates, but are more costly than online surveys.
Get Straight to the Point
To state the obvious, people are busy. It can be hard to get them to provide useful and sincere answers to a survey if the survey is too long or if the questions require too much introspection and thought. Keep it simple and straightforward and prioritize questions related to your key areas of focus.
There’s no need to start from scratch when it comes to compiling survey questions. Smith points to the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) surveys as the industry standard for measuring patient satisfaction, with the Clinician and Group Provider (CG-CAHPS) survey being the version used to measure perceptions related to care delivered in a clinic setting.
According to Press Ganey, which Smith cites, five questions in particular from the CG-CAHPS are key to evaluating patient satisfaction and loyalty:
- Confidence in Provider: “Rate your confidence in this care provider.”
- Coordination of Care: “Rate how well the staff worked together to care for you.”
- Concern for Worries: “How much concern did the care provider show for your questions or worries?”
- Listening: “During your most recent visit, did this provider listen carefully to you?”
- Courtesy: “Rate the friendliness/courtesy of the care provider.”
When conducted properly, patient surveys are a great way to get useful feedback on your organization and make targeted and well-received improvements. By utilizing the tips and strategies above, you can help steer your organization in the right direction when it comes to capturing and capitalizing on patient feedback.
How have you used surveys to effectively attain actionable feedback from key audiences? Share here.
Trust…the healthcare marketer who has been in your shoes! Jean Hitchcock has spent more than 25 years at some of the nation’s most respected health systems. As a healthcare marketing and communication leader, she understands your competing priorities. Your strained resources. The pressure to differentiate your services and distinguish your brand. All amid seismic changes in our healthcare system.