Measuring Patient Satisfaction

  • October 01, 2017


  • Measuring Patient Satisfaction Can be Difficult.

    A very important aspect of any medical practice is patient satisfaction, and a recent increase in emphasis on quality of care and value-based payment models has brought more attention to the subject. But measuring patient satisfaction can be difficult.

    There are three main parts of measuring patient satisfaction: the initial step in the process is creating a useful survey, distributing the survey, and accurately analyzing the results. You don’t need to have a background in market research and statistics to accurately measure your patients’ satisfaction. Just keep the following in mind:


    Create a Useful Survey

    Keep it simple

    Having clear and concise questions are the keys to a good response rate. Many healthcare practices choose to use a survey from an outside vendor to ensure that the questions have been tested and validated. If you choose to create your own survey, include only the most relevant questions.

    For example, the questions should address the quality of care, access, and interactions between the patient and the physician and staff. And it is important to ask one overarching question about the patient’s satisfaction to give you a sense of your overall performance. You’ll be able to use this information as a single measure of patient satisfaction.

    Be consistent

    Do not use biased or vague questions. Be as concise as possible! By paying careful attention to the wording of each question, the results and feedback that you gather will be much more accurate. It’s advisable to make sure the majority of the survey uses the same answer scale, whether it is a “five”, or “ten-point” scale or a range of “Poor” to “Excellent” so you’re able to accurately compare the results. For a deeper understanding of patients’ satisfaction, you can also include some open-ended questions.

    Gather demographic information

    In order to ensure receiving honest responses, most physicians allow survey respondents to remain anonymous. It’s a good idea to request some demographic information. Gaining a sense of how different groups of patients respond will help identify any problem issues so that the right improvements may be put into place.


    Distribute the Survey

    Timeliness matters

    Research from The New England Journal of Medicine shows that distributing patient surveys during office visits, or quickly thereafter, improves the chances of collecting accurate and meaningful data. You may also want to consider limiting your patient feedback request to a specific office visit, as this will improve the correlation between patient experiences and health outcomes.

    Distribute the surveys in person or via e-mail or regular mail

    Some experts suggest mailing the surveys to reduce the possibility of unwanted bias or influence. If a large mailing is too costly for your practice, then be sure your staff hands them out consistently.


    Accurately Analyze the Results

    Use a large sample size

    A suggested minimum sample size is 200 responses. Since response rates are typically only 30 to 35 percent, you’ll have to distribute more than 600 surveys to get a large enough sample from which to draw any valid conclusions.

    Account for individual responses

    Determine how you will aggregate the results. One way to go: use a weighted average based on your answer scale, rather than lumping together “positive” and “negative” responses. This technique will allow you to maximize even a smaller sample size.

    Final Steps

    Once you’ve analyzed all of the results, determine what improvements you’d like to make, and appreciate positive feedback too.

    Remember, the idea of “satisfaction” carries different meanings for different people, and it can be influenced by a number of factors too. It’s not easy to accurately measure, but surveying your patients is still a useful way to gain some helpful information for the future of your healthcare practice.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us below or call us at 561-578-8400.