Creating an Effective Patient Satisfaction Survey

In MGMA’s 2013 Performance and Practices of Successful Medical Groups report, 80% of the “better-performing” practices admitted to using patient satisfaction surveys to gauge practice performance.

By assessing approval ratings, these practices were able to gain insights into how patients viewed their practice in terms of wait times, appointment availability, quality of care and a variety of other vital areas.

Your practice can do this too as long as you know how to build an effective patient satisfaction survey. But before throwing a set of questions together, review the following basics and make use of our sample survey.

Patient Satisfaction Survey Basics

One of the most important rules to follow when creating a patient satisfaction survey is to not make it too long. Once patients undergo survey fatigue, they will start filling out answers hastily, throwing off the accuracy of your results.

Also make sure the survey is as easy to code as possible. Using a numbered scale from one to five is most convenient. The odd number of choices ensures there is a neutral point, and the short range of numbers reduces ambiguity. Furthermore, using numbers makes it easy to calculate results once results are submitted.

You want to avoid confusion when writing the questions too. Patients shouldn’t have any room to respond inaccurately. For example, don’t ask questions like “How do we rate in terms of appointment scheduling and call wait times?” They may feel one way about the former and another way about the latter. Stick to one subject per question.

Once the survey is complete, you’ll have to figure out which distribution method will garner the highest participation rate. If your patients are tech-savvy, use tools like Survey Monkey, which will tabulate the results for you. If not, it’s best to distribute them to patients during their visit. You can also mail surveys, but then you’ll have to worry about postage costs.

To help you, we’ve created a sample survey to get you started. It is only 15 questions long, so you can add questions specifically tailored to your practice. But avoid adding more than 10 additional questions or you may induce severe survey fatigue. Of course, feel free to use the survey in its current form if you think it’ll work well for you.

Sample Survey

To help us better serve our patients, please take a few minutes to complete the survey below. We appreciate your contribution toward improving [Your Practice’s Name].

The following categories are based on a 5-point scale, with one being the lowest score and five being the highest. Please circle the number that best corresponds to your opinion about our practice.

1)   Easy to schedule appointments: 1  2  3  4  5

2)   Return calls in a timely manner: 1  2  3  4  5

3)   Time in waiting room: 1  2  3  4  5

4)   Cleanliness of office: 1  2  3  4  5

5)   Staff professionalism: 1  2  3  4  5

6)   Explanation of billing charges: 1  2  3  4  5

7)   Convenience of payment: 1  2  3  4  5

8)   Physician professionalism: 1  2  3  4  5

9)   Quality of care: 1  2  3  4  5

10) Overall experience: 1  2  3  4  5

Check the box that best describes you or write in a response if your option is not available.

11) How many years have you been a patient at [Your Practice’s Name]?

Less than 1 year ___  1 to 3 years ___   3 to 5 years ___  Greater than 5 years ___

12) How did you find out about [Your Practice’s Name]?

Word of mouth ___ Online search ____ Yellow Pages ___ Signage ____ Other ___________

13) Would you refer a friend to [Your Practice’s Name]?

Yes ____ No____ I already have ____

Please write in a response for the following questions.

14) What do you like most about [Your Practice’s Name]?

15) What do you like least? What are your suggestions on how we can improve?

Thank you for completing our patient satisfaction survey. We look forward to making improvements that will enhance your healthcare experience.

Slapping a patient satisfaction survey together isn’t going to do much good for your practice, so take your time. Once you have a quality questionnaire created, distribute it annually. The results will allow you to continue making improvements that will keep your patients happy and loyal.

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