Why Patients Don’t Answer Surveys (and Why it Matters)

Blog, Patient-Centered Engagement

There was a time, so I hear, when a physician’s word was gospel and to challenge that authority meant you were an exception and a rebel. When I entered Healthcare in 2007, this was ancient history.

Patients are empowered in today’s healthcare marketplace, armed with resources and information unlike any other period of time. They are also armed with voices – loud voices. Social media has acted like the megaphone to patient opinion and healthcare reform has awakened a new sense of ownership; patients are asking better questions about their care and about their bills. This shift has created a new focus on patient satisfaction and experience.

There are so many factors to consider when surveying patients, determining what questions to ask, what sample size to use, reviewing the data, and prioritizing improvement initiatives to name a few. And yet a practice’s greatest challenge in surveying patients is actually getting the survey answered. Patients are solicited for their feedback by every consumer product and service organization they interact with. Their mailboxes are full.

With so many different parties competing for your patient’s attention and participation, what hope do you have of getting your survey completed?

Lucky for you, most organizations commit the following three survey mistakes that make it easy for consumers/patients to overlook and ignore their requests for feedback. Understanding these pitfalls gives you a leg up on your competition (for feedback that is).

  • The survey is too long — it requires too much time to complete
  • It’s badly timed — it’s either presented to the consumer immediately (survey at the bottom of your receipt) or sent days later (when consumers don’t care anymore or don’t recall much about their experience)
  • It’s unfocused — the survey asks too many questions about too many topics, the results are confusing and difficult to prioritize

Let’s Be Different

Healthcare administrators can use patient-centered engagement and design to approach patients in a way that gets their attention–text and email–and makes it easy to elicit meaningful feedback. At Relatient, we suggest most practices start with our Reputation Management survey — which quickly generates feedback and positive online reviews. The key is keeping it simple, we started by limiting a survey to one question, “how would rate your overall experience?”

The magic isn’t in the question, it’s what you do with it. A patient’s response to this question tells a practice how to interact with the patient next:

“You’re happy? Great! Would you leave us a quick review on HealthGrades or a similar site?”

“Your experience wasn’t great? Tell us a little more so we can do better next time.”

This creates advocates out of happy patients and mobilizes their intent to recommend your practice while giving dissatisfied patients a voice and giving you (the practice) an opportunity to recover the situation.

The Best Part

It’s automated. We spend time with you upfront and then you don’t have to touch it. We’ll even deliver you the results by email daily or weekly depending on your preference. Patients love it because they can complete it on their phone. Emails will get buried and snail mail will go in the trash, but patients are far more likely to respond if the survey:

  • Is pushed to them on a mobile device
  • Is timed to reach them within 24 hours of their visit
  • Requires minimal time to complete
  • Is not pushed to them too frequently

Our clients tell us they love the real-time results because it gives them the ability to keep a constant temperature on what’s going on in their practices from the patients’ perspective. They use that information to address their greatest pain points and provide their patients the best possible experience. 

Get meaningful patient feedback and build a great reputation.