Your Top 5 Patient Survey Questions Answered

Lea Chatham January 21st, 2014

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Learn how to conduct patient surveys

In her recent webinar, Nothing but the Facts: Find Out What Your Patients Really Think, speaker Judy Capko discussed the ways to capture patient feedback and how to use it to improve your practice. Participants had many questions about this process, and we’ve chosen several of the top questions to share here.

Q: To get a statistically sound baseline, how many patients should I survey initially? A: I think responses from 10% of your patients would be valid. I suggest you poll 25-30% of your patients. That way if you get a 30-40% response rate you should reach that 10% of all patients number. If you use a third party for your surveys, they will set these goals for you.

Q. As an alternative, what about using the hospital surveys to measure patient satisfaction? A: Hospitals use a criteria for in-patient care so not all questions are relevant to ambulatory care. I suggest you look at the Rand 18 sample (the link is in the slides), and think about the questions you want to ask to get answers that can help your specific practice improve. Think about key points of service like wait times, communication, and giving patients treatment options. 

Q: Is a business associate agreement required to use a third party to do the survey? A: It may depend on how you are collecting the feedback. If it is an anonymous online survey, you probably don’t need to worry about it. If you are doing in-person focus groups then you may need to do one. Definitely check with the vendor based on their past experience. They can probably tell you.

Q. Do surveys encourage negative comments? A: There is always the possibility of negative feedback in surveys. But you need to look at that feedback as an opportunity to fix problem areas. It’s unlikely that you’ll get negative feedback that is just for the sake of being negative. Most of us are basically doing a good job, but we need to know if there is a problem somewhere or we can’t address it and improve.

Q: Don’t some of the patient issues come about because the physicians don’t have enough time? Reimbursement is down and they have to see more patients in the same amount of time. A: I understand this concern and it is valid, but there are solutions. Usually, if physicians learn to delegate things that do not require their expertise they gain time during their day. This requires having competent staff who can perceive your needs and help you move through your day more easily. Also, your manager can help you determine the many technology features you can employ in your practice to save time. A patient portal is one of them. As far as patient satisfaction, a survey is an opportunity to identify the most pressing issues. You need only to address them one at a time. One key element to accomplishing this, as I said in the webinar, is having a committed team. You are not in this alone. Many of your peers have the same issues. So, focus on making positive changes and take one step at a time.

If you missed this interesting and informative event, check out the recorded webinar. If you are looking to evaluate and build your practice, register for our next webinar, Is It Time to Look at New Revenue Streams.

About the Speaker


Judy Capko is the founder of Capko & Morgan, a nationally recognized healthcare consulting firm. She is the co-author of the sensational new book, The Patient-Centered Payoff. For more than 25 years she has specialized in medical practice management and operations, emphasizing patient-centered strategies and valuing staff’s contributions. Judy is also the author of the top selling books Secrets of the Best-Run Practices and Take Back Time: Bringing Time Management to Medicine, and is a popular speaker at national healthcare conferences. Thousands of physicians and administrators have benefited from her practical, innovative, and no-nonsense approach to organizational management and strategic planning.

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