How to Design a "What Matters" Survey

Designing a survey to quickly capture actionable patient and employee feedback can seem challenging. While there are countless standardized surveys and questionnaires, few truly get to the heart of What Matters to patients, families, and employees in a timely manner. Delayed reporting and lack of customization prevents organizations from aligning these surveys with their organizational goals.


To design an effective survey, focus on positivity and what goes well and not just what could be improved. Assess where gaps in feedback exist and design questions that ask specific, improvement, and experience-based questions. Drill down on themes that are uncovered in standardized survey results so that the data collected can unambiguously lead to transformation at the front lines. Having an opportunity to get quick, direct feedback from employees and patients is critical, but time must be taken to design surveys that will bear data that is truly desired by leaders and managers to drive change.  


A group of sixty-nine healthcare professionals participated in listening sessions during the first week of the COVIC-19 pandemic to obtain feedback from the frontlines. The major themes identified were for leaders to hear, protect, prepare, support, and care for them.  


goShadow uses organizational data represented in Figure 1 to design, correlate, and benchmark our database of questions against. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a clear example of how employees at all levels have needs that employers aren’t quite sure how to address or know even existed. Leaders can harvest additional information that can be used to drive change through asking a combination of scaled and qualitative questions meant to drill down on the themes identified in the listening sessions. As is seen in Figure 2, goShadow maps these types of specific questions to larger themes identified through focus groups or standardized surveys.


When employees are anonymously asked targeted questions about ways to improve their and their patients’ experiences, leaders are one step closer to enabling changes for all stakeholders’ benefit. goShadow uses a combination of scaled and free response questions to maximize employee engagement and track changes over time. In this way, surveys can be administered monthly, quarterly, or annually on a unit-level or organization wide. This data, which can be benchmarked and studied, helps to ensure appropriate allocation of improvement resources and to create a culture that fosters listening to employee and patient voices to improve experiences and outcomes.  



Figure 1: Major categories of requests identified by groups of healthcare professionals.

Figure 2: A mapping of what health care professionals identify as needs from their organization, and correlated goShadow questions used to harvest more details. 


Posted on

May 18, 2020