How to Write An Effective Patient Satisfaction Survey

April 21, 2022 by Antonio Arias, MBA, CHBME

Topics: Revenue Cycle Management, Practice Management

Your practice depends on patients to come and see you for quality care; at the core of your practice’s operations is delivering great care to patients, both new and returning. But how can you gauge the degree to which your practice is delivering an overall fantastic experience for them? How do you know if they’ll refer your practice to their friends and family? What if there are points of friction for them that you’re simply unaware of? 

That’s where asking for feedback plays a pivotal role in the patient-practice relationship. Patient satisfaction surveys are a surefire way to examine the perception your patients have of your practice and gain insight into points of improvement. 

Let’s dive into the importance of patient satisfaction and how to write a survey that captures useful information.

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Why Is Patient Satisfaction Important?

The success and longevity of your medical practice are predicated upon patients having a great experience with you and your staff, ideally from start to finish. Your patients are the heart of your practice—they dictate the financial performance of your practice and are there to receive quality care from your organization. A negative experience, or repeated pattern of not improving the patient experience, can lead to loss of business.

Disseminating a patient satisfaction survey can help your practice prioritize your patients in a manner beyond delivering great care: simply asking for their opinion and taking measures to internalize and apply that feedback demonstrates great care for the relationship.

Patient satisfaction is important

How to Write a Patient Satisfaction Survey

Writing a patient satisfaction survey doesn’t have to take weeks or months—nor is it permanent! Start with these foundational steps to put together some questions that you feel best apply to your patient population:

Internally Determine What Might Need Improvement

When brainstorming what questions to ask on your practice’s patient satisfaction survey, gather your staff and see what patients might want to review at different points of your practice. Is the scheduling system too complicated? Do you notice that patients are often no-shows because there isn’t a reminding process in place? Are patients returning to your practice or going somewhere else?

Listen to Your Patients

Your patients might already be telling you what they’d like to see improve—even if they’re not specifically saying X needs to change, simply tuning in to what they make small talk about with your receptionist can be an important marker for what to ask about on your patient satisfaction survey.

For example, if you frequently hear your patients mention not being able to find a parking spot, or they’re winded from walking over from a distant parking garage, then that might be a clue into what your practice needs to address in your patient satisfaction survey. Picking up on these informal yet frequent comments that share a theme or pattern is a great way to scope out what to include in your survey. 

Establish Your Rating Scale

Your survey results won’t be as effective as you’d like if your rating scales are inconsistent or don’t offer a measurable way to compare data. There are many different ways to scale your patient satisfaction survey, but keep these points in mind when determining which to implement in yours:

  • Try to avoid offering a “neutral” option since that won’t help your practice yield specific results
  • Stick to one rating scale method for all quantitative questions; for example, utilizing a variety of emoticons or a numbered scale for the survey will help keep your results comparable

How to write patient satisfaction surveys

Questions to Consider Using for Patient Satisfaction Surveys

If you’re ready to write your practice’s patient satisfaction survey, consider including some of these questions to jumpstart discussion and select the best range that suits your patient population:

  • How long did you wait to see the physician (beyond your appointment time)?
  • How comfortable are you with the appearance of this office?
  • How clean was the waiting room?
  • How knowledgeable were the staff?
  • Was the staff courteous?
  • Were you informed of the payment options available to you?
  • Do you think enough appointment slots are available?
  • Are our appointment times convenient?
  • How would you rate the parking availability of this office?
  • Did the physician meet your needs?
  • Did the physician adequately answer your questions or concerns?
  • Did you feel you were treated as a top priority in this office?
  • Will you return to this practice?
  • Would you refer your friends and family to this practice?

You’ll notice that none of these questions are double-barreled—or, in other words, asking about two separate things in the same question. 

For example, asking about how knowledgeable or how courteous the staff in your medical practice were to the patient takes up two separate questions. Asking about both of these qualities in the same question might skew results if, for instance, your staff were friendly but not able to sufficiently answer a lot of questions that the patient had. 

Some of these questions might stray from a subjective rating scale; for example, asking how long a patient waited beyond their designated appointment time might require offering multiple-choice, time-based answers (Less than 10 minutes; 15-30 minutes; etc.). These answers will still be helpful for your practice to gauge how efficient and punctual your practice is running.

Be sure to also include some open-ended questions for your patients to share their free-form opinion and ideas for improvement. For example, ask the question “What can we do to improve your experience?” to demonstrate your practice’s eagerness to hear from the patient directly what can be streamlined for their experience.

Focus on Your Patients and Let NCG Medical Handle Your Medical Billing!

Need to dedicate more resources to delighting your patients but feel swamped with the medical billing portion of your practice? Partner with NCG Medical to optimize your healthcare revenue cycle!

At NCG Medical, we’ve been helping healthcare practices devote more attention to patients for four decades by handling all the ins and outs of the medical billing process. Our customized solutions can improve revenue management cycles and ensure that your practice is realizing the full value of the services it provides. 

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