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The Why and What Behind Patient Satisfaction Surveys

July 26, 2022

Adam Lueken

For many years, patient satisfaction surveys have remained a tried and true method for learning how your patients feel about your service, care and overall practice experience. And if you are not regularly conducting satisfaction surveys, you should strongly consider it.

Satisfaction surveys can give you insights on things relating to your practice operations that you might not be able to learn anywhere else. As a result, you can build actionable plans and goals to address areas you are coming up short in and celebrate what is working really well. Surveys can play a big role in how your practice plans goals, develops patient relationships and ultimately grows as a business. Let’s look at some other major “why” points when it comes to patient satisfaction surveys:

Let Your Patients Know That You Care About Their Thoughts

When you ask someone for their honest, open feedback, it shows that you value and care about what they think. This is no different when asking your patients for their thoughts. It shows them you are interested in what they have to say and want to open a dialogue with them. Patients that feel connected will want to stick with your practice and be much more likely to recommend you to friends and family. Plus, as an added bonus, you will gain lots of great reviews to share online and in other marketing materials.

Discover What Your Current Patient Pulse Is

Building strong patient relationships is crucial for doctors in all medical fields. Strong relationships lead to more trust, more patient engagement and better outcomes. Surveys can help you learn what factors influence these relationships – what patients are happy with and what they are unhappy with. For the latter, you can identify these issues early on and course correct them before patients abandon your practice for another.

Design an Effective Survey

Now that we have discussed a little more about the why behind patient satisfaction surveys, what goes into building an ideal survey? To begin with, choose the most effective questions for your practice. What are your goals with this survey – feedback for workflow improvements, specific provider feedback, patient experience improvements or other areas of your practice? Identifying your goals will help you create the right questions.

Ideal questions are typically close-ended with predefined answers to choose from, which can be answered more easily by patients. This will help for easier data analysis of the results too. Some open-ended questions can also be used, but it’s best not to over-use them. Avoid leading questions that can influence the responses. For example, a leading question would be, “We think service A is a great treatment, how great do you think it is?” In that scenario, you are already laying out an expected opinion. Use more neutral questions instead, such as “please share your experience with service A.” Not all questions have to be required either. Some areas may not be relevant to every patient, and as such, they shouldn’t be required to answer those questions.

If rankings or scaling are used in your questions, be consistent with them. If using a five-point scale on a question, stick with that for others. If ranking, rank one thing at a time rather than combining items. Don’t ask your patient to rank appointment wait time and cleanliness of exam rooms in the same question. Overall, try to keep your survey brief. It’s alright if you don’t get all your answers in one go-round. If asking too much, your patients may be too burdened and that can lead to lower response rates.

Administering a survey doesn’t have to solely fall on you and your team either. There are many patient-engagement tools and vendors out there that can help you streamline this process, many with pre-made templates that can be deployed quickly. Most surveys are administered digitally now rather than by paper, which makes the process much easier and more organized.

Here at VitalSkin Dermatology, we’ve partnered with Qualtrics, a leader in research and experience management, to help our supported practices create and rollout patient satisfaction surveys and reporting. If building a patient satisfaction plan is something you need support with, we’d love to talk. Schedule a consultation with one of our practice management experts today!



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