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How to design a patient experience survey: Free download

Learn how to design and send a patient experience survey, and get a free, customizable template to get started today.

A stellar patient experience is what keeps patients returning again and again to your practice. 

It’s the sum of all interactions across the patient lifecycle and includes everything from how a patient schedules an appointment to their interaction with the practitioner in the room. Today, as healthcare premiums continue to rise, patients have come to expect a customer service experience to match, and the patient experience has never been more important.

What is a patient experience survey? Why conduct one? 

A short, post-visit questionnaire, the patient experience survey is a key way to improve your continuum of care for patients and generate reviews to be used online as part of your practice’s growth strategy.  

Editor’s note: Ready to up your patient experience game? Discover additional strategies in this must-read piece ‘5 ways to improve the patient experience in 2023.’

Surveys provide the opportunity for practices to receive first-hand patient feedback and suggestions. They also help patients feel their medical provider values what they have to say. 

Our data shows 2 in 3 patients think it’s important for practices to follow up with patients after a visit. 

Post-visit surveys are also perfect for asking patients to provide feedback or leave reviews. 

According to a survey by PatientPop, a Tebra company, patients are more than twice as likely to post a review when asked for feedback than those not asked for feedback. 

Online patient reviews are an essential part of a your practice’s growth strategy 75% of patients say online reviews are “very or extremely important” when considering a practitioner, and 67% of patients won’t consider visiting a medical professional with less than a 4-star average review, according to survey by PatientPop, a Tebra company.

Ensuring a good patient experience is a key part of providing quality care, and automated surveys help practices spot operational inefficiencies, understand patient preferences, and invite patients to share their experiences.

Patient experience is not the same as patient satisfaction 

Regularly conflated, patient experience and patient satisfaction are two distinct measurements.

Patient experience is an objective measure that represents a patient’s perception of care along the entire patient journey across multiple touchpoints. It encompasses everything from the ease of booking an appointment, to the quality of care a patient receives, to follow-up care and payment. 

Patient satisfaction represents how well patients feel a practice satisfies their expectations and needs and is subjective. 

For example, the ability to request prescription refills online is part of the patient experience; whether or not your practice offers online Rx requests is an objective fact. Yet the ease of refilling prescriptions would be a measure of patient satisfaction. It is a subjective opinion. 

How do you conduct a patient survey? 

Patient experience surveys are best conducted after each patient visit. Ideally, your practice should send patients a short survey a few hours after the patient’s visit, that way you can capture feedback while the visit is still fresh in the patient’s mind. 

Your practice should send patient surveys electronically to deliver on patient expectations for streamlined, digital services and communications from their healthcare provider.

Consider sending a post-care email with instructions for follow-up care, information on payment (if applicable), and a link to the post-visit survey. Practices can use platforms like Google Forms or a comprehensive healthcare management platform like Tebra, which will automate the process for you.

Practices using Tebra benefit from surveys that are sent automatically via text or email about 3 hours after the booked appointment. If patients don’t respond, the platform even has a short, repeat cadence that nudged patients to complete the survey at their earliest convenience. 

How do you measure patient experience? 

Practices can measure the patient experience through a feedback program, like patient surveys and questionnaires. Measuring the patient experience is the first step to systematically improving it. 

Patient experience surveys often leverage a combination of scaled, rating questions and open answer sections, and cover topics like wait time, friendliness of staff, and visit with the medical practitioner. 

Tips on designing a patient experience survey

Practices can streamline patient surveys by including questions that speak to patient experience and patient satisfaction. Patients can both ask about the services and functionality of a practice (patient experience), while asking patients to rate their satisfaction with those services (patient satisfaction). 

For example, practices can inquire about the medium through which a patient booked their appointment (patient experience), and ask about their satisfaction in doing so (patient satisfaction).

With a multitude of touchpoints across the modern patient journey, practices should include questions that speak to each. Be sure to ask about: 

— Ease of booking an appointment

— Wait time

— Communication

— Friendliness of staff

— Practitioner visit

— Follow-up instructions or care

Are there any HIPAA guidelines that need to be followed? 

HIPAA privacy regulations state that medical facilities may conduct “quality assessment and improvement” activities as part of their healthcare operations. 

Medical facilities are permitted to use protected health information (PHI) as part of their healthcare operations, and therefore for the purposes of this article, in their surveys or questionnaires, as long as that is expressly stated in the practice’s Notice of Privacy Policies. 

Most practices give patients their Notice of Privacy Practices on the first visit or deliver it electronically prior to the first visit. To remain HIPAA compliant, be sure this is included.

Key takeaway 

Running a patient experience survey will generate valuable insights for your practice, create the opportunity to capture reviews, and make patients feel your practice values their feedback. Use a platform like Tebra to automate patient surveys to be sure no patient feedback goes unnoticed. 

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Written by

Catherine Tansey

Catherine Tansey is a business writer and reporter. She has close to a decade’s experience writing and reporting on small business best practices, emerging technology, market trends, and more. She holds a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical communications from the University of New Hampshire where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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