Industry Voices—6 types of healthcare surveys that can improve patient experiences

doctor patient consult
Some 86% of patients say they will take a survey when asked by a healthcare provider. (Rawpixel)

A growing number of healthcare organizations are bringing patient experience officers on board to lead efforts to improve patient satisfaction and their care experience.

In fact, a Beryl Institute study found more than half (58%) of healthcare organizations now employ a chief experience officer. The savviest of these healthcare leaders know that in order to truly transform the patient experience, organizations need to push the focus beyond just measuring patient satisfaction and onto delivering better healthcare experiences.
 
One way to do that is to expand how organizations use patient surveys.
 
Rather than relying on surveys only to measure satisfaction levels, healthcare teams can take advantage of opportunities to use patient satisfaction surveys, along with several other types of surveys, to drive improved patient experiences.

Organizations can use surveys to engage patients between office visits, assist them with health management and help them stay on track with their care plans. In many cases, healthcare teams simply need to maximize the technology they already have in place—their appointment reminder technology—and they can easily send survey invitation messages to patients.

RELATED: Reducing costs, improving patient experience top of mind for health system leaders: survey

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But few healthcare teams are using surveys to their potential. Many more could leverage surveys to improve healthcare experiences.

According to a West Corporation survey of 1,036 adults and 317 healthcare providers in the U.S., 86% of Americans are willing to participate in a healthcare survey if prompted by their doctor.

And that doesn’t just include satisfaction surveys. Feedback from patients indicates they are open to participating in a variety of other types of surveys, including health risk assessments, gaps-in-care surveys, medication adherence surveys, remote health monitoring surveys and post-discharge surveys.

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Here’s a look at how six different types of surveys can play a role in boosting patients’ experiences:

1. Health risk assessment surveys

Healthcare teams can use risk assessment surveys to identify health risks and personalize care for patients based on their individual health needs and risk factors. A good time to use these surveys is just before patients are seen for annual examinations. For example, a healthcare team can use its patient engagement technology to send automated text messages to patients prior to their appointments. The messages can include a link to an online health risk assessment and instructions that explain how the survey will be used.

Doing this creates opportunities for providers to learn about patients’ needs, discuss health risks during exams and map out preventive care plans that will keep patients healthier.

2. Gaps-in-care surveys

Gaps-in-care surveys are helpful for identifying which recommended preventive services patients have not received. This type of survey is useful for engaging healthy patients that may not otherwise be thinking about their healthcare or taking preventive actions to maintain their good health.

By sending patients invitations to complete gaps-in-care surveys, healthcare teams can see which patients are overdue for preventive services and then invite them to schedule appointments for preventive screenings and tests.

3. Medication adherence surveys

Supporting patients with medication adherence can lead to better healthcare experiences. After all, if patients don’t take prescribed medications, or they take them incorrectly, they won’t see the outcomes they want. Medication adherence surveys may include questions that ask patients if they have filled their prescriptions, if they are taking medications as directed or if they are suffering from any side effects.

RELATED: Industry Voices—Executing on your patient satisfaction goals is within your power

Based on patients’ responses, healthcare teams can follow up and help patients overcome challenges that are preventing them from taking their medications correctly. This could mean finding a more affordable generic replacement or adjusting a dosage amount to reduce side effects. Ultimately, the goal is to make it as easy as possible for patients to take their medications, so they see the maximum benefits.

4. Remote health monitoring survey check-ins

Health monitoring surveys are one of the most versatile healthcare surveys. These surveys can be used to monitor high-risk patients and individuals with chronic conditions. They are also useful for checking patients’ progress between visits and determining if they are following treatment plans correctly.

Healthcare teams may want to use health monitoring survey check-ins to ask patients to report health metrics —such as weight or blood sugar—and answer questions about lifestyle habits. Providers can use the information from monitoring surveys to identify patients who are struggling to manage their health and specific chronic conditions and offer them additional support.

5. Post-discharge survey check-ins

An effective survey strategy has a lot to do with timing. Reaching out to patients shortly after they are released from the hospital is a smart way to use surveys to monitor for problems and prevent readmissions.

Hospital staff can send follow-up surveys to patients between 24 and 48 hours after they are discharged to monitor for problems during their transition out of the hospital. It is also helpful to survey patients again at some point during the 30-day window following a hospital discharge since this is typically when patients are most vulnerable and likely to experience issues that could lead to readmissions.

Based on the survey responses, hospital staff can contact patients, schedule additional survey check-ins or intervene in other ways to minimize the risk of readmission.

6. Patient satisfaction surveys

Of course, no survey strategy is complete without patient satisfaction surveys. These commonly used surveys provide insights that can be used to drive improvements and satisfaction scores.

The key is to use satisfaction surveys in tandem with the other surveys listed above. Doing so allows healthcare teams to measure satisfaction levels and improve healthcare experiences at once.

West’s survey found that only 12% of healthcare providers use surveys to identify health risks, 7% use surveys to monitor metrics that indicate how well patients are managing health conditions and just 9% use surveys to monitor patients after they have been discharged from the hospital. There are clearly many opportunities for improvement.

If healthcare teams work to implement more advanced survey strategies, they will be able to positively impact their patients' experience.

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