Patient surveys can highlight gaps in care and help your health system determine areas for improvement.
But traditional patient feedback surveys on paper are cumbersome, expensive to deliver, get low response rates, and typically garner responses only from those who are either really happy or really unhappy.
Online healthcare satisfaction surveys are the obvious alternative. Nevertheless, you still have to deliver them. The solution is simple: use a patient communication platform to deliver patient surveys by text message.
WELL clients have found that simply switching from paper surveys to sending online surveys via text message tripled completion rates, yielding a 20 percent completion rate for some health systems.
Here are some of the most common questions regarding patient surveys and the best practices for sending surveys, increasing response rates, and improving patient satisfaction.
Medical practices can create patient surveys through SurveyMonkey, Typeform, Formstack, or another online form provider.
Alternately, you can use a more sophisticated patient survey company, such as Tonic, a WELL partner. Tonic allows you to create and customize patient experience surveys or choose from a range of templates, including best-in-breed patient satisfaction surveys, NPS, leadership rounding, and CAHPS. Tonic’s forms are also easy-to-read and have a fun, interactive design.
Many survey vendors encourage patients who provide positive responses to leave a review on online review sites, such as Google, Yelp, or a social media channel.
You can deliver links to patient surveys via email, but for the best open and response rates, text messaging works best. Here’s why: Patients are already on their phones, and text messages have a 98 percent open rate compared to email’s 20 percent.
With a patient communication platform, such as WELL, you can send text messages directly from your practice line — a number patients will already recognize.
The best time to send a patient satisfaction survey is one day after a visit. Sending a patient survey on the same day might be overwhelming. If the practice is running behind schedule, the survey could arrive before the visit is even complete — which probably won’t help patient satisfaction scores.
WELL offers three distinct ways to deliver online patient surveys. The first is through an automated text message. The patient will receive a link to a survey embedded within a message, a thank you message following a visit, for example. This requires no additional lift from your staff other than to set up the initial automation.
Another option for sending patient surveys is through a Broadcast message to multiple patients at a single point in time. For example, you could send the survey to all patients at a single location or to patients who saw a certain provider during the previous year.
Finally, to reach a larger group of patients, use a Campaign. You can select a specific group of patients — segmenting for any particular patient subsets you want to target — and upload a .csv to WELL. For example, if you want to check in with your millennial patients, you can export a list of patients whose birth dates fall within a certain range.
Patient surveys traditionally have a low response rate, as low as three percent. This yields skewed data because it only represents the patients who are really happy or really frustrated. It doesn’t help you capture data from the vast majority of your patients. Here are a few tips to improve text message response rates:
- Make it easy for your patients and offer online surveys sent via text message. When the text comes from a number your patients recognize, they’re more likely to finish the survey.
- Respect patients’ time by keeping your surveys short. This way, they’re more likely to complete the survey. Also, choose simple questions that are easy to understand and don’t use medical jargon.
- Finally, don’t send too many surveys. Your patients will become fatigued if you send surveys after every single visit. Instead, opt for a survey following new patient visits and at an annual or semi-annual cadence. ♥
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Pamela Ellgen is WELL’s Health Editor. She began her career in community journalism and is the author of more than a dozen published books. She is a graduate of Washington State University.