Many have attested that the measurement patient satisfaction in healthcare is a glaring omission and the irony of this is not lost on most. Many industries measure customer satisfaction even small business like oil changing places or even the neighborhood plumber all measure customer satisfaction and ask for feedback. So how come Patient Satisfaction in Healthcare is not a more focused on aspect?
One way to measure patient satisfaction in healthcare which is quite obvious is through Patient satisfaction surveys. Patient satisfaction surveys can help doctors and clinicians identify ways of improving their practice and caregiving. This ultimately translates into better care and happier patients. Taking patient surveys show your staff and the community that the healthcare organization is interested in quality. It demonstrates that they are looking for ways to improve. Even if some organizations decide they don’t need to take patient satisfaction surveys to measure or improve patient satisfaction, they can’t escape it because the healthcare industry and governing organizations are beginning to demand the data more and more. Refusing to comply will lead organizations to lose competitiveness in the industry.
There are various ways to conduct surveys for feedback. Some ways are phone surveys, written surveys, focus groups or personal interviews. Most practices will want to use written surveys, which tend to be the most cost-effective and reliable approach.
With a written survey, practices have the option of creating a questionnaire from scratch or using a product that's already been developed by an outside vendor. Many experts recommend using a survey developed by experts because more thought is put into it and they are usually more valid because they have been tested and proven to work.
Healthcare organizations should focus on the top three issues. Practices have three general goals when they interact with patients: to provide quality healthcare, to make that care accessible, and to treat patients with courtesy and respect. Your survey questions, then, should cover each of the three areas: quality issues: is the patient satisfied with his or her medical care? access issues: is it easy to make an appointment or get a referral, and interpersonal issues: are the physicians and staff caring and compassionate?
All three areas, quality, access, and interpersonal are equally important and should be treated as such. Most customers put access at the top of their list on how what’s important in a healthcare organization. Though clinicians and doctors might think the quality of care will be at the top of the list but the truth is people like being able to make an appointment easily and like to be treated with respect (interpersonal issues). Thinking these two are irrelevant or less relevant than the order is a bad idea.
When creating a survey, take note of the following:
Ask the essential question: Sometimes people will put a questionnaire together, and they'll follow the flow of the patient and ask about everything but then they forget the key question: how satisfied are you with your physician?’
Word questions carefully: Survey questions should be brief and easy to understand. Don’t ask biased, vague or double-barreled questions. Instead, questions should be focused and direct and should not be leading either else you compromise the validity of the survey.
Use consistent scales: The majority of questions on a patient satisfaction survey should be answered using a scale. Examples include 10-point scales, Likert scales (e.g., five points ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”), four-point scales (which force a sided response) and many other variations. Whatever scale you choose make sure it is consistent across the entire survey.
Include an open-ended question: It’s a good idea to include one or two open-ended questions like “what can we improve?” “what do you like most about the way you were treated?” It gives great insight to see what patients say and how they feel by their answers to the questions. It also helps the survey takers understand the graded questions better and gives them better insight.
Strive for anonymity: Generally, patients are more likely to answer survey questions honestly if they believe their identity is protected. Healthcare organizations should make an effort to keep the entire survey process anonymous. Patients should be able to complete their surveys in private and return them without fear of being identified.