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Promoting positive patient experience is important when offering a holistic healthcare package. That is why conducting a patient satisfaction survey will help you identify gaps in care and in turn, help your health system determine areas for improvement. It also enables you to identify key insights to further drive patient engagement and build stronger relationships with your patients. Finally, these surveys help providers discover what healthcare consumers really want from healthcare.

However, a conventional, paper-based patient satisfaction survey is a cumbersome approach. These surveys are expensive to deliver, get low response rates, and typically garner responses only from those who are either really happy or really unhappy. Online healthcare satisfaction surveys are a better choice.. Nevertheless, you still have to deliver them.

Here are some of the most common questions regarding patient surveys and the best practices for sending surveys, increasing response rates, and improving patient satisfaction.

What are the best patient satisfaction survey template providers?

To start their transition from paper-based surveys to text-based ones, most healthcare providers opt to use online patient template generators. SurveyMonkey, Typeform, and Formstack are considered the best solutions for creating the best patient satisfaction survey templates.

You can also use a more sophisticated patient survey company such as Tonic. A WELL™ Health partner, Tonic allows you to create and customize patient satisfaction survey templates or choose from a range of pre-made survey templates. Tonic’s template choices include best-in-breed patient experience surveys, medical practice surveys, NPS, leadership rounding, and CAHPS. Tonic’s forms are also easy-to-read and have a fun and interactive design.

Many survey vendors encourage patients who provide positive responses to leave a review on online review sites such as Google, Yelp, or a social media channel.

What is the best way to deliver a patient satisfaction survey?

But what’s the secret on how to get patient feedback these days? The solution is simple, you need to use text-based patient satisfaction surveys. Over the past few years, text messaging has been the most popular communication platform for patients and providers; therefore, if you want the highest chance of getting a response, the best patient satisfaction survey is the one sent via text.

According to a survey on texting, sending a text message is faster, less obtrusive, and more discreet. According to a survey carried out by Medical Economics, 80% of patients are willing to receive text-based communication from their providers, even if it’s a patient satisfaction survey.

WELL clients have found that simply switching from paper surveys to sending online surveys via text message tripled survey completion rates, producing a 20 percent completion rate for some health systems. This only strengthens the case that healthcare providers should send surveys via text.

Recent figures also indicate that patients are more responsive to text messages so a patient satisfaction survey sent via text has a better chance of being completed. For one, patients see texting as more convenient than other alternative communication platforms. A phone call containing the same message lasts two minutes at the very least, often longer. The response rate for texts? An impressive 209 percent higher than phone calls. Over 90 percent of text messages are opened and read within three minutes upon receipt.

Yes, you can send links to a patient satisfaction survey via email. But for the best open and response rates, text messaging works best since text messages have a 98 percent open rate compared to email’s 20 percent.

With a patient communication platform such as WELL™, you can send text messages directly from your practice’s phone number — a number patients already recognize and are more likely to actually answer.

When is the best time of day to send a survey?

According to SurveyMonkey, the best time of day to send a survey to a patient is right after a visit to the doctor or a day after their hospital stay.

Why? If the volume, frequency, and timing of a patient satisfaction survey campaign are mismanaged, patients become highly prone to survey fatigue. When this happens, survey response rates as well as the quality of the responses suffer. If healthcare providers are not careful and send survey via text at an inappropriate time, it’s very likely that the patient will not respond. Or if he or she does, the answers will be of poor quality.

Scheduling a patient survey to be sent on the same day of an appointment might be overwhelming. If the practice is running behind schedule, the survey could arrive before the visit is even complete — which probably won’t help patient satisfaction scores.

WELL offers three distinct ways to deliver online patient surveys. The first is through an automated text message. The patient will receive a link to a survey embedded within a message such as a thank you message following a visit. This requires no additional lift from your staff other than to set up the initial automation.

Another option for sending patient surveys is through a Broadcast message to multiple patients at a single point in time. For example, you could send the survey to all patients at a single location or to patients who saw a certain provider. Finally, to reach a larger group of patients, send surveys using a Broadcast a Campaign. You can select a specific group of patients — segmenting for any particular patient subsets you want to target — and upload an Excel document to WELL. For example, if you want to check in with your millennial patients, you can export a list of patients whose birth dates fall within a certain range.

How do you improve response rates for patient surveys?

Patient surveys traditionally have a low response rate, as low as three percent. Even an optimally designed medical practice survey template will not garner substantial response rates. This results in skewed data because it only represents the patients who are really happy or really frustrated. It doesn’t help you capture data from the vast majority of your patients. Here are a few tips to improve text message response rates:

  • Patients’ preference for texting as a means of communication with their providers has become more prevalent than ever, according to a survey on texting conducted with health consumers. Keep in mind that prior to sending a survey to a patient, it is important that the patient give their consent since patient satisfaction surveys can contain patient medical information. Failure to ask for consent puts providers at risk of compliance violations.
  • Make it easy for your patients and offer online surveys sent via text message. When the text comes from a number your patients recognize, they are more likely to finish the survey.
  • Respect patients’ time by keeping your surveys short. This way, they are more likely to complete the survey. Choose simple questions that are easy to understand and avoid using medical jargon.
  • Finally, don’t send too many surveys. Your patients will become fatigued if you send surveys after every single visit. Instead, opt for a survey following new patient visits, and at an annual or semi-annual cadence.