3 Steps to Setting Up an Effective Patient Satisfaction Survey

For those who have never done it before, seeking feedback from your patients can seem scary. Or perhaps you might feel the results of a patient satisfaction survey to be unreliable. However, getting that feedback is crucial to the success of your practice. It allows you to spot issues and fix them before they become a big problem. It also lets your patients know that you truly care about them and their experience with your practice. 


Here are some tips on how to set up an effective patient satisfaction survey.


1 | Identify What You Want to Know

Bring your team together to identify any potential problem areas in your practice. Not only is this a great opportunity to hear from your own employees about problems they see, but it gives you the chance to brainstorm and collaborate on ideas to improve the practice. It also allows you to develop the questions you wish to ask your patients for further insights. 


Remember, asking broad questions such as, “How satisfied are you with us?” won’t give you very much actionable information. Instead, ask about specific elements of the patient experience, such as “How satisfied are you with the length of time you spent waiting to see a provider?” You’ll also want to decide if you wish to ask patients about a single experience (like their last visit) or if the survey will be about their general experience with your practice. If it is about a singular experience, try setting up your survey to be delivered to their email inbox or to call them the day after their visit, while the experience is still fresh in their mind. 


2 | Create Your Survey

Each practice is different, but here are a few general tips to keep in mind when designing your patient satisfaction survey.

  • Avoid binary questions, i.e. yes or no questions. Instead, use an answer scale (such as 1-10 or very satisfied/somewhat satisfied/somewhat dissatisfied/very dissatisfied) to get a more accurate reading of your patients’ feelings.
  • Ask, “Would you recommend us to a friend or family member?” to learn if they would trust you with the health of others. 
  • Include an open-ended, general comments section at the end to reveal issues you may not even be aware of or to get further explanation on a previous answer.
  • Keep it short. Less is more applies to surveys too so keep it to seven questions or less.


3 | Choose a Platform

How will you deliver your survey to patients? You have a few options at your disposal:

  • Online: There are several free and paid options available, including Survey Monkey, Google Forms or even an option through your email marketing program.
  • Phone: This can be a great way to reach older patients (Millennials and Gen Z are less likely to answer a phone call). You can conduct these in-house or hire a firm to do it for you.
  • Snail Mail: This may seem old-fashioned but is cheaper than telephone surveys. Be sure to include a pre-stamped and addressed envelope to make it easy for patients to mail their responses back. 
  • In Office: If you are looking for immediate feedback, have them fill out the survey while checking out or place the forms along with a collection box in your waiting room.


Once you have your results back, it’s time to evaluate them and make the necessary changes. After the changes have been in place for a few months, consider running another survey to ask patients if things have improved. If the data shows improvements, then it’s time to celebrate!

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