Patient satisfaction surveys are a powerful way to uncover opportunities for improvement and identify how likely patients are to recommend a physician, hospital or medical services. More and more they are also tied to HCAHPS, reporting, and reimbursements. While surveys and surveying techniques often yield important information, a recent article by Harvard Business Review (HBR) reveals the wasted potential in the information provided via surveys given after an experience, “conflating all of the customer’s experiences into one summary judgment leads to lost opportunities.” Given the increased importance being placed on patient and family reported scores and satisfaction, it is essential that caregivers, hospitals and healthcare organizations pay close attention to how, when and where surveys are administered and uncover ways to connect with patients at just the right time.
If you want a patient to take any positive action...it should come immediately following a positive experience.
Traditionally satisfaction surveys are sent between 3 days to one week after a healthcare experience has occurred. According to HBR, this lag time leads to higher negative impression scores. Largely, this is due to the fact that at the time of the anecdotal review, the negative aspects of an experience tend to stick in the mind far longer than the positive. Therefore, if you want a patient to take any positive action, from completing a survey to writing a review, it should come immediately following a positive experience, as opposed to at the conclusion of their entire care journey.
In order to increase patient satisfaction scores, it is becoming necessary to give patients and families the ability to provide feedback during multiple parts of their experience.
In order to increase patient satisfaction scores, it is becoming necessary to give patients and families the ability to provide feedback during multiple parts of their experience. In the case of an outpatient office visit, for example, surveying could take place in specific segments: at check-in and waiting room, in the exam room, and during check out. This gives patients the ability to pinpoint EXACTLY where there are negative aspects and operational vulnerabilities and which parts of their experience was truly outstanding and provide value. This drill down into the experience gives organizations insight into the IDEAL time to survey patients about their experience.
The possibilities are endless, but the bottom line is the same; more opinions and better opportunities for patients to provide feedback lead to better satisfaction scores and more meaningful value-added improvements.
A surefire way to harness the power of patient satisfaction surveys is to map the patient pathway and identify a variety of areas for feedback. While the opportunities to survey can be far more abundant in a retail or hospitality setting, healthcare can learn from these industries by incorporating more frequent, less intrusive survey techniques. Perhaps it includes a quick exit survey before leaving the office, or an ipad questionnaire in the downtime before seeing a provider. The possibilities are endless, but the bottom line is the same; more opinions and better opportunities for patients to provide feedback lead to better satisfaction scores and more meaningful value-added improvements.
Using shadowing to follow the patient and establish a true pathway is the first step to improving patient satisfaction scores. Understanding each segment of an experience will help to identify which areas best present survey opportunities. Further, patient shadowing actually gives the patient and their family the ability to provide real time feedback throughout their entire care pathway, revealing additional opportunities for engagement and improvement. For more information on how to get started shadowing or to create a patient pathway, visit the free resources available at goshadow.org/tools.