How to Conduct Patient Surveys

by | Nov 5, 2021

Let’s first establish why patient surveys are essential to grow as a business and practice. Surveys:

  • Provide insights into the true patient experience 
  • Give the practice an opportunity to address complaints 
  • Shine a light on the ways your business can improve 
  • Provide patients a chance to recognize truly great experiences or staff members  
  • Build better relationships with your patients 

Now, if you are trying to get people to fill out a survey on their way out the door, just stop! After a patient finishes their appointment and comes to the front desk to check out, they want to leave. If your staff offers a clipboard, paper, and pen to fill out a survey of their appointment experience, the patient is likely to become annoyed. They won’t answer honestly, or if they do, it’s going to be about how bothered they are to have to do a survey in the first place. Remember: they’ve already been sitting in your waiting and exam room for quite some time, so filling out a survey is the last thing they want to do.

Surveys can provide an anonymous way to get a better understanding of what exactly is happening in your practice. The patients’ responses will help identify any hiccups within your practice that you can target to revise for a better service experience. It can also serve to identify certain individuals within your staff who are working hard to provide excellent service to patients. Above all, surveys are a form of communication between you and the patient. They address the patient experience from start to finish including being greeted upon arrival, cleanliness of the waiting room, exam room, bedside manner of nurses and doctors, explanations of invoices, or anything else that goes on from the patients’ viewpoints.  

There are clear benefits of utilizing surveys; however, the platform patients use to take the survey heavily influences their completion rates, as well as honesty within their answers. Paper surveys are a thing of the past as technology incorporates itself into everything we do. Patients want a way that doesn’t require them to take extra steps to do something that is not required. So, instead of sending them a link to a survey or expecting them to use your portal, send an automated survey text that uses AI to communicate just like you yourself might do.  

So… how do you get valuable insights from patients about your practice?   

Perhaps your office has updated their survey methods and now provide patients a link via the portal or even an email to fill out a survey later and on a different site. This option might be better than the paper survey because now the patients can fill it out electronically at their leisure, but when people see they must click on a link or login to another site, again they are not likely to fill out the survey. Leaving them time to wait until later is not a great idea either; actual responses will be slim to wrong as they may forget to complete it entirely, or no longer clearly remember their appointment.  

According to data conducted by Pew Research Center, 81% of Americans regularly text. Now with Art of Chat, you can text your patients to ask how their appointment experience was in a conversational manner. These messages can easily be automated and use powerful AI technology to either ask the next question, a different question, or jump to the end of the survey based on the responses it receives. Also, particularly if your patients had a bad experience or are struggling with the survey, your own operators can jump in to smooth things over immediately, ask clarifying questions, or help out immediately instead of letting people hang onto any upset feelings or confusion.  

What convenient way can patients complete a survey and you get the response rates you want? 

It’s simple: TEXT!  

With Art of Chat it’s as simple to engage patients in building your practice with surveys as it is to remind them to show up in the first place. 

  

What should you ask in your survey, and how should you ask it? 

  • Typically, people send short texts that are less than 20 words, so it is important that you phrase your questions in a brief and concise manner that allow simple responses. And don’t forget to be personable and even ask if they are willing to take a survey in the first place. Examples could include: 
  • Hi, it’s Dr. S. Thanks for coming in. Mind if we ask a couple of quick questions about your appointment today? 
  • Were you greeted upon arrival? (Y/N) 
  • Did you have to wait long to be seen? (Y/N) 
  • Please rate your Provider’s care and bedside manner (1-10, where 10 is the best) 
  • Thanks for your time; is there anything else you would like to share? 

Your survey questions should be engaging with a mix of yes/no style and scaled questions or other short response questions to keep the conversation flowing naturally. Detailed, open-response questions are somewhat unnatural to respond to while texting, so, it’s best to stick with simple questions that get people responding quickly while comfortable In their natural environment, which prompts more honest answers. Keep the open-ended question for last.  

Ask what you need to know and most importantly, take actions based on what you find out. Communication is an important part of a patient’s appointment experience. They need to communicate with you to schedule appointments and explain their health concerns. It therefore makes sense that you in turn would communicate with them to ask how their service was. Surveys are a bridge that connect the patients’ suggestions and concerns in one appointment to their experience in their next appointment. The changes you make in accordance with their survey responses will prove to them that you care enough to deliver optimal service to them. This will in turn strengthen your relationship with your patients as they feel you are truly listening to their thoughts and opinions and incorporating it into your changes for a better experience for them, which will keep them coming back to you and not seeking different care. These days communication outside the office is an extension of ‘bedside manner’ so it’s important to do it in the right way.  

If someone answers: “No, I had to wait 3 hours and that is unacceptable,” do not just jump right into the next question. Instead address it immediately. With AI you can send a response based on that response. Inphonite can program your Survey to say “I’m so sorry! I’ll make a note and we’ll try harder next time. Would you like to continue with the survey?” Responding in this way makes the person feel heard, which goes a long way toward having them return.  

What is the Key to Business Communication? 

Art of Chat is the key. The gateway between your service and your patients can easily be opened. Not only can Art of Chat send appointment reminders and surveys, but it can also allow your staff and your patients to text back and forth at any time, right from your office or home computer. With surveys we help improve your business with the input of your own patients, but you can also use Art of Chat to schedule or reschedule appointments, send office closure notices, and more.   

Chat with us today to see how you can improve your practice today!