The Care Necessities: A Simple Guide to Elevating Patient Experience

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doctor and patient looking at tablet

The patient experience is at the heart of delivering high-quality, compassionate, and connected care. However, truly understanding how individuals perceive their interactions with providers continues to be a complex, multi-layered process. And even the most seasoned organizations continue to face obstacles in making significant improvements.

Surveys have been the de facto instrument for quite some time. But there’s so much more to measuring patient experience than simply adopting the occasional listening tool. Administration modes can impact response rates. How actionable your data is can affect service recovery efforts. And the types of questions you ask can yield varying results.

The following is a primer on what you need to know to simplify continuous listening and implement an effective patient experience program built on a foundation of improvement — from the basics to more advanced strategies.

Chapter 1

The Current and Future State of Patient Experience

two women smiling and looking at documents

If you’re involved in running a healthcare organization, you know the ramifications of improving the patient experience. It can increase loyalty, boost the bottom line, and enhance your organization’s reputation. But with patient needs evolving fast in a digital world, knowing where and when to implement changes can be tricky. That’s why understanding where the patient experience stands and where it’s headed is key.

Understanding Patient Journeys: Obstacles and Opportunities

Anyone who’s worked in healthcare the past few years understands how difficult the pandemic was. Organizations across the industry were packed beyond capacity. Leaders had to rapidly innovate to meet evolving safety standards. And care teams everywhere had to put in maximum effort just to survive.  

As providers put the public health emergency in the past, what patient experience lessons can they bring into the future? Furthermore, how can health systems close persisting gaps in the patient journey?

Challenges to streamlined care experiences 

Healthcare leaders are prioritizing the patient experience more and more. However, evidence shows a surge in negative interactions reported by patients.

Key areas of friction individuals encounter include:

1Extended wait times – Waiting for an appointment doesn’t just feel like it’s taking longer. It now takes 26 days to schedule a doctor’s visit — a 24% jump from 2004.

2Communication gaps – Communicating clearly and compassionately with patients can be difficult for even the most experienced providers. Nearly two-thirds of patients forget to ask important questions during their appointments. And many terms clinicians use confuse the people they treat, creating a more complicated patient journey.

3Burned-out healthcare workers – The healthcare workforce has been stretched thin. Medical professionals are burned out and leaving the field as a result. One key contributor to record burnout is mounting workloads. As clinicians are overburdened by stress, their engagement declines — impacting the care they deliver and, subsequently, patient experience measures.

The advent of healthcare consumerism

Prioritizing patient experience is imperative for enhancing the patient journey. And incorporating the patient voice into improvements means understanding current trends in patient priorities. One primary trend is digital consumerism. Patients increasingly expect a digital-first care experience when interacting with providers. Individuals also prefer digital-first care. 

Providing patient-first care in a digital universe

Evolving consumerism trends have doubtlessly influenced patient expectations of care. To keep up with these changing standards, providers must invest in solutions that give care teams real-time feedback, carefully consider the user experience for both patients and clinicians, and enable rapid retrieval of important data.

What Does Exceptional Patient Experience in Healthcare Mean?

Terms used among healthcare professionals mean very little unless they’re clearly defined. On the surface, the patient experience encompasses how patients perceive their care episodes, interactions during treatment, and other communications throughout their care journeys.  

But patient experience can be a loaded term that contains many implications for organizations. To get a true understanding of the patient experience at your healthcare facility, take a dive into some basics and learn how to refine your continuous listening strategy to exceed patients’ expectations of care.  

Defining patient experience

The patient experience weaves together the emotional, physical, and psychological aspects of healthcare.  

It goes well beyond treatments and diagnostics. It involves levels of communication, empathy, and overall well-being. When patients experience positive encounters with their providers, they’re more satisfied with their level of care. Subsequently, they’re more likely to trust their care teams for future healthcare needs.  

Challenges to a positive patient experience

Interpersonal dynamics significantly shape a patient’s perception of their experience. But a lot can disrupt a seamless patient experience at any given time. These obstacles include difficulties scheduling appointments, limited digital support, subpar provider engagement, and faulty transitions of care. 

Actionable strategies to reinforce exceptional patient experience

Patient experience involves understanding the unique needs, fears, and hopes of each individual. Indeed, the human experience is a principal factor in understanding how the patient experience impacts people at personal and collective levels.

The fact is that outdated paper questionnaires meant to help providers understand the human experience yield few responses and even create friction for patients. Vendors assisting health systems to understand the patient experience usually take too long to provide accessible results to leadership for decision-making.

Strategies advancing these efforts forward include:

Patient Journey Icon
Continuously listening to patients throughout care journeys

The patient experience extends beyond healthcare facility walls. So, naturally, your PX strategy should not only consider how patients experience care on location, but also how they interact with your organization before their visit and how you might help them after discharge.

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Opting for digital-first patient experience surveys

Any effective patient experience program that understands the importance of convenience in healthcare must use robust, digital-first formats. It’s key for meeting patients where they are and enhancing data collection to empower your providers with real-time insights.

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Measuring your workforce experience, too 

Care team engagement is classically tied to better patient experience. Extend your continuous listening approach to your workforce to understand challenges and drive better decision-making to support more positive work environments.

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Making your data accessible for care teams

Unfortunately, a lot of healthcare data remains fragmented. Assess any new technologies and tools to ensure they simplify data collection, then visualize it in real time to give care teams actionable strategies for improvement.

The Keys to Improving Patient Experience in Marginalized Communities

Improving patient experience for individuals in underserved demographics isn’t simple – it’s a multilayered responsibility. Facilities can more effectively influence positive change by assuring that providers are routinely considering the 5 social determinants of health in care delivery and that their patient experience manager or functional leader is weighing regular patient feedback as they take targeted actions to increase equal access – all leading to better outcomes, healthier communities, and more satisfied and loyal patients walking through their doors.

5 social determinants of health

Central to improving experiences for every patient are the social determinants of health (SDOH), which, according to the World Health Organization, are “the nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes. They’re the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life.” They’re complicated and often interdependent on each other, requiring review when receiving patients and consideration in patient survey questions.

The 5 social determinants of health include:

1 Economic stability

Determining economic stability goes beyond personal finances or employment status. For instance, steady employment can provide insurance; however, it doesn’t always supply sufficient income, so workers can still lack resources to afford high-quality care. Food and housing insecurity also play a role. Low-income neighborhoods may not have nutritious food available or exist far from supermarkets, driving up prices on healthy items and impacting wellness. People might also spend the bulk of their income on rent, be forced into dangerous housing, be evicted, or be denied housing altogether.

2 Education access and quality

A strong education — or lack thereof — is directly tied to health. For example, those who attain a bachelor’s degree tend to live longer. But the quality of one’s education is also critical for determining factors like upward mobility and health literacy. Without the right knowledge and skills, for example, a graduate can’t secure the job and income they need, which can lead to a less-than-ideal living situation and limit their access to healthcare.  

3 Neighborhood and built environment

In some neighborhoods, overcrowding is common and can expose unwitting tenants to harmful toxins and infectious diseases. Water quality and pollution also pose threats, as do crime and violence. Poorly constructed or maintained “built environments” – inclusive of manufactured structures like sidewalks, playgrounds, and green space – present additional safety and livability challenges.

4 Healthcare access and quality

Lack of insurance, few primary care provider options, high out-of-pocket costs, and the absence of physical access — such as transportation — impact one’s ability to receive quality care. Skipping appointments can lower life expectancy and lead to higher costs down the line when treatment is unavoidable.

5 Social and community context

Relationships with family, friends, and co-workers play a significant role in one’s health and well-being. Being connected to community helps people mitigate challenges and dangers outside of their control, such as unsafe neighborhoods, bias, and lack of personal resources — all of which could potentially damage one’s health.

Supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in healthcare

Understanding the 5 social determinants of health is just one part of improving patient experience.

Promoting true diversity, equity, and inclusion in healthcare (DEI) requires a patient experience manager to implement efforts such as:

  • Consistent SDOH screenings and data collection. Screening can allow facilities to identify patients’ social needs and help address them. The questions from these screening tools make an impactful addition to your customizable patient surveys. 

  • Programs to promote empowerment. Facilities can build trust and strength in their communities by promoting civic engagement – offering information on local elections, voter registration, and forums for discussion. They can counter disempowerment narratives and promote social cohesion with support for and education on important issues.  

  • Health literacy training for clinicians. Limited health literacy (LHL) is associated with SDOHs like low education level and income, as well as ethnic minority status, and can lead to increased hospitalization rates, disease development, and higher mortality. In high-volume clinics, brief training can help educate providers on LHL’s prevalence and impact, help assess HL, and provide guidance on communicating with patients with LHL. 

  • Real-time surveying. The funding that keeps comprehensive care available to underserved and uninsured populations hinges on positive outcomes and improving patient experience scores. It’s essential to use digital surveying methods to get real-time input on the challenges your patients face – before it’s too late to course-correct. Surveys should be conducted before, during, and after visits to capture the full scope of needs, and cover domains related to SDOH. 

Chapter 2

Assessing and Satisfying Your Patient Experience Needs

patient and doctor on tablet

It’s one thing to understand patient experience trends. But it’s another to implement effective solutions that move the needle toward progress. Now that you have a comprehensive take on the patient experience, it’s time to address how to analyze and meet patient needs to make significant improvements at your organization.

FQHC Requirements: The Patient Experience Benefits You May Be Missing

Running a federally qualified health center (FQHC) or community health center (CHC) can be an exhausting and thankless job. Luckily, thoughtful surveying can help FQHCs recharge their patient experience strategies and improve clinical and organizational outcomes more quickly.

Healthcare survey initiatives shouldn’t be seen as something you design to fulfill an obligation and eventually use to spur improvements in some grand way, but instead as an opportunity to continually review patients’ specific issues and resolve them in real time – enhancing patient satisfaction, retention, and referrals.

The current landscape for maintaining compliance

(HRSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the overseer of FQHCs and CHCs. Alongside its guidelines and regulations are steps facilities must take if they wish to secure ambulatory healthcare accreditation through The Joint Commission or the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) and/or patient-centered medical home (PCMH) recognition via the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) 

Though specific healthcare survey regulations may vary by agency, HRSA’s FQHC requirements center around having an ongoing quality improvement/assurance (QI/QA) system including clinical services and management. As they build these systems, organizational leaders must put foundational structure in place, ensure patient data confidentiality, and conduct assessments (at least quarterly) on patient satisfaction and experience. Similarly, patient surveys are required for ambulatory care accreditation and PCMH recognition. 

Unlocking the value of the real-time healthcare survey

These assessments can inform and guide decision-making for FQHCs or CHCs and are integral drivers of patient experience initiatives. They must be supported by regular listening to patients and paired with tools for rapid service recovery and sustained quality improvement. 

To show continuous quality improvement to meet FQHC requirements, your surveys need to include questions about critical moments and interactions within the patient journey.

Some typical points of focus include:

  • Getting access to care, regardless of ability to pay

  • Communicating with providers

  • Receiving culturally and linguistically competent care

  • Having acceptable wait times

  • Scheduling appointments

For FQHCs and CHCs seeking PCMH recognition, there are additional patient experience measurements to consider, since those centers’ aim is to become comprehensive and patient-centric healthcare homes. Candidates must regularly track and report on the above items as well as other aspects of care like patient and caregiver engagement, care continuity, and care management. 

By getting instant feedback on these items and practicing fast service recovery when needed, healthcare leaders can identify which solutions are effective as problems arise and which should be adapted for systemic change. All of this can help on the path to higher patient satisfaction and net promoter scores (NPS). 

Implementing digital-first feedback on both sides of the care equation 

All FQHCs and CHCs should survey patients before, during, and after a care event. And, instead of relying on post-discharge queries that only provide a limited view of the patient experience, leaders need to shift their attention to digital pulse surveys. 

By using real-time PX (patient experience) technology to administer surveys, healthcare organizations can better understand the needs of the communities they serve and personalize strategies to the exact and unique challenges often faced by underserved populations. They can further ensure that the programs they develop are appropriate for their target audience, communicated effectively to that audience, and well-utilized so personnel and resources are used efficiently. 

Positive feedback about providers can also be a reference point for adjusting workplace best practices, as well as a great motivator and morale booster for individual clinicians. Happier nurses, physicians, and staff contribute to better care and stronger relationships with patients.  

By engaging in real time with employees and managing their experience via pulse surveying, 360-degree feedback, and regular reviews, healthcare organizations can also collect helpful internal feedback to strengthen the human connection with their staff. These efforts contribute to improving an organization’s culture and allow clinicians to flourish as care providers while their own needs are addressed. As staffing shortages and burnout continue to plague the industry, these are all critical factors in securing and renewing patient trust. 

Powering Profitability & Patient Retention for Physician Practices 

Physician practices are often the first point of contact for individuals seeking medical attention. They’re essential to the health of the patients they treat, but the inverse is true as well – at least in terms of financial and organizational health. Without a loyal patient base, most of these clinical centers will be plagued by growing existential resource issues. By using best practices and the right technologies, physician practices can supercharge their patient retention efforts and excel at healthcare reputation management to help mitigate costs.  

Patient churn and how healthcare reputation management can help 

Patients might choose to leave physician practices for various reasons, and understanding these factors is essential for healthcare providers to improve satisfaction and patient retention.  

One primary reason is a lack of effective communication. Patients appreciate clarity and transparency from their healthcare providers. If physicians fail to engage effectively, patients may feel uninformed or dissatisfied, prompting them to seek care elsewhere. 

Underpinning gaps in communication is the overall quality of the patient experience. Long wait times, disorganized scheduling, and a lack of personalized attention can contribute to a negative patient experience. Healthcare organizations that prioritize patient satisfaction by embracing efficient appointment scheduling, convenient platforms, and methods for minimizing wait times with digital-first strategies are more likely to report better patient experience — and, as a result, better revenues. 

Physician practices need to deploy effective healthcare reputation management strategies to curb churn. That means prioritizing communication, improving the patient experience from multiple angles, and identifying gaps in care that can be effectively addressed.  

It also entails careful tracking of your practice’s progress to ensure your organization meets and, ideally, exceeds NPS benchmarks 

Using real-time PX data to boost patient experience 

Improving patient experience is crucial for patient retention. Your program will only be as good as the patient experience manager you have in place and the data they collect. And that data is only as useful as the methods by which it’s organized and leveraged.  

To gather this information, practices have traditionally looked to paper surveys. But they’re inconvenient for patients increasingly accustomed to a digital-first world. Another issue is time. Survey vendors that follow the status quo typically take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months to deliver accessible insights from the data they collect for you. By the time your patients convey their feedback, they might already be out of your reach and looking for other practices in their area that will quickly respond to their needs.

5 Ways Better Patient Surveys Can Help Prevent Healthcare Burnout 

Healthcare has experienced some of its greatest existential challenges over the past few years, from declining resources to lagging patient engagement to the pandemic.  

But one troubling trend has continued to rear its head for many years: widespread workforce burnout. Let’s dive into some key contributors to healthcare burnout and how a better approach to patient surveys can help prevent it.  

How can advanced patient surveys help prevent physician burnout? 

A range of factors contribute to healthcare burnout. For instance, limited upward mobility within organizations could make clinicians feel blocked. How is healthcare grappling with these issues? Many practices have turned to more engaging residency programs. Others offer expanded opportunities for advancement. Some have even provided their clinical staff with complementary wellness services. 

Although these are all important steps, much of what underpins physician burnout lies in juggling tedious tasks, endless lists, and compliance measures with delivering high-quality care. The harsh truth is that manual surveys have added fuel to this fire. They’ve multiplied attention-grabbing tasks for trained clinicians and produced insights often too outdated to trust. When strategizing a best-in-class experience for your healthcare workforce that will reinforce efforts in physician and nurse retention, look no further than improving your patient experience surveys.

A more advanced approach to listening to your patients can:

1 Mitigate administrative work 

Classic pen-and-paper surveys only grow physicians’ and nurses’ to-do lists, requiring them to manually gather and catalog feedback from patients — and work with outside consultants just to glean insights from this information. Survey administration that uses text messaging and digital formats streamlines this entire process, automating patient data collection and organization.

2 Support patient-provider relationships

Advancements in patient surveying can eliminate busy work related to continuous listening, freeing up doctors to put most of their focus toward patients. And forward-thinking digital solutions like Feedtrail go a step further, automating several necessary steps before, during, and after visits — removing many operational concerns and making way for more engaging patient-provider interactions. 

3 Empower clinicians with actionable data

How can care teams feel effective in providing their patients with high-quality and personalized care without timely information? The simple answer is they can’t. Luckily, digital PX solutions that bubble up insights in real time empower healthcare workers to act when it matters most. Leveraging the most current PX information, physicians can understand where communication breakdowns occur and effectively address the exact issues their patients encounter during their experiences — fostering more confidence in clinicians as they administer care. 

4 Celebrate clinicians in real time

When it comes to retaining your workforce, it’s important to understand the gravity of celebrating wins, not just assessing areas for improvement. That’s why some of the most innovative patient surveying technologies actively communicate positive patient feedback to physicians. Feedtrail has found that 80% of the feedback collected in our system is positive and complementary in nature, and being able to seamlessly share this feedback with staff in real time helps reinforce why they do what they do. It also supports initiatives in physician and nurse retention.

5 Improve your organization’s reputation 

People take pride in their work. It’s no different in healthcare. Clinical staff show up every day because they care for people, and they expect their dedication to compassionate and connected care to be reflected in the organization they serve. With provider reviews taking on a more significant role in reputation management for doctors, having a modern, digital-forward patient survey strategy with real-time data collection is paramount. The more your care teams can quickly recover from gaps in patient experience, the better your organization’s reputation becomes — online and offline.  

It’s not just patient experience that benefits from advanced surveys. The wellness and resilience of your workforce do, too. But only the most forward-thinking surveying strategies effectively support your clinical staff to find joy in the workplace.

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Chapter 3

Surveys 2.0: Enhancing Patient Experience in Real Time

woman using smartphone

Establishing a patient experience program rooted in continuous improvement is essential. This strategic approach not only supports better outcomes, but it also accelerates your progress toward better ratings, reviews, and, in the case of FQHCs, funding. In this chapter, we explore ways to bring your patient experience vision from capable to incredible. 

Upgrading Your Patient Survey Offerings: PX’s Digital Evolution 

The drive to measure patient experience started in the 1990s, but patient survey distribution didn’t begin in earnest until the 2000s. Since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)’ rollout of Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores in 2006, the U.S. healthcare system has kicked reporting into high gear and witnessed considerable progress in PX. 

However, data shows that that progress has stalled. According to The Leapfrog Group, even in 2022 as COVID drifted into the rearview with advancements in vaccines and other treatments, PX measures continued to drop for the second year in a row.  

As a provider, how do you reverse this downward trend as it becomes clear the pandemic isn’t the only culprit? The answer lies in modernizing the engine behind your efforts – your patient experience program – to meet rapidly evolving expectations of the communities you serve. 

How can providers improve the patient experience? 

Several effective strategies can enhance providers’ work to improve the patient experience and sufficiently satisfy expectations of care:

  • Use a digital-first strategy:

    Where possible, leave those paper surveys in the past. Meet patients where they are with SMS and mobile applications to ensure they have highly accessible and usable interfaces to voice their opinions.

  • Make insights usable for care teams:

    How accessible PX data is to your care teams is a key part of the puzzle. Adopt digital patient engagement platforms that display real-time patient survey insights your workforce can leverage to make rapid improvements and continual progress.

  • Create patient-first — instead of provider-first — operations:

    Traditionally, healthcare workflows have revolved around the needs of clinical and administrative staff — partially or wholly leaving out considerations for the patient perspective. Implement strategies that put the patient first, including engaging them through preferred communication channels, adopting methods that enhance care coordination across providers, helping patients navigate fragmented care journeys, and supporting individuals before, during, and after appointments.

  • Choose solutions that generate insights from across demographics:

    To understand how to elevate the patient experience of everyone who comes under your care, analyze insights across race/ethnicity, age, gender, and other demographic categories to accurately assess disparities. Actively glean SDOH data and use it to start addressing access challenges, such as lack of transportation.

    Improving Patient Experience: 5 Key Initiatives

    While society has settled into a post-pandemic phase, patient expectations of care continue to evolve. In demand now are telehealth services, improved safety measures, and, above all, patient-centered care that encourages shared decision-making, listening, and transparency.  

    Our Chief Strategy Officer, Paul Jaglowski, connected with leaders across several healthcare settings to discuss the state of PX and best practices they abide by. We noticed five central themes and hope that they’ll help you meet your organization’s goals.  

    1 Invest in patient engagement solutions 

    Healthcare leadership continues to acknowledge the importance of having adequate information management systems in place to monitor quality, experience, and safety metrics within their organizations.

    Critical information often comes from leader rounding, which serves a valuable purpose in understanding how to improve patient experience and should continue. However, surveys and digital patient engagement solutions can capture a deeper pool of insights.

    Continually using insights from survey data to inform service recovery drives improved quality of care, enhanced patient loyalty, continuous improvement, compliance with regulatory requirements, and demonstrated accountability to patients and stakeholders.


    By investing in a deeper understanding of the metrics, both for outcome and process tracking, healthcare teams can be far more equipped to evaluate and impact the patient’s experience in real time.

    — Knox Singleton,
    Former CEO, Inova Health System

    It’s also critical to track performance with the right platform. Singleton added, “without a tool in place to measure these metrics in real time, any healthcare organization will be at a noticeable disadvantage.”

    2 Commit to real-time transparency 

    A quarterly review of metrics covering patient satisfaction in healthcare doesn’t cut it when discussing how to improve patient experience. You might wait up to three months to hear patient feedback and react to it, leaving the door open to repeating the same avoidable mistakes. 

    Organizations are instead looking for real-time transparency into patient satisfaction scores and comments so they can not only respond to that patient promptly, but also change the way they deliver care


    Our real-time patient feedback platform allows my team to collect raw patient feedback and distill the most crucial insights in a matter of seconds. It gives my team and me complete transparency over what is going on in the hospital so that I can make sure our team is recovering any service issues that patients might have prior to discharge.

    — Kathy Ritch
    Director of Service Excellence, High Point Regional Hospital

    3Sync prior to discharge

    Most of the individuals we spoke with expressed frustration that they had no way to learn about a patient’s concerns until after discharge. By investing in a real-time patient feedback and information management platform that automatically communicates patient concerns to care teams, organizations can perform service recovery before patients even leave the hospital 


    With our real-time patient feedback system, the site administrator knows in real time whether a patient had a good or bad experience and can contact that patient directly if he or she left a response that warrants service recovery. And all data is in personalized dashboards, so you can quickly identify trends and create better best practices for the overall footprint

    Chaneka Pigatt,
    COO of CareSouth Carolina

    4Foster a culture of learning

    A culture of learning is led by people open to new ideas and perspectives. It promotes flexibility and innovation, provides a supportive environment, emphasizes ongoing improvement, and most importantly, focuses on outcomes. And your patient experience listening instruments should reflect these same concepts. 


    Before implementing a real-time patient feedback platform we were collecting lengthy, annual surveys that received very low response rates. Receiving this survey data several months after patients’ most recent experiences with us resulted in our team struggling to find value from the limited volume of insights.

    Jack Bretcher,
    COO, PartnerMD

    To correctly leverage the data provided by patient engagement solutions, leaders must also ensure that team members feel a sense of psychological safety so they can share what went wrong during a patient interaction without fear of reprisal. 

    5Listen to patients in their own words

    If you want to truly learn how to improve patient experience, it’s essential that you give patients a way to provide open-text feedback.  


    It has been great to hear from patients in their own words about the care that we provided. We have been able to diagnose issues with the patient’s experience as soon as they arise and make adjustments to the patient’s journey.

    — Jennifer Allison,
    Manager, Inova VIP 360

    The Importance of a Smooth Transition of Care in the Patient Journey 

    One critical moment that significantly influences a patient’s care experience is during a transition of care. Care transitions, when executed seamlessly, can make a world of difference in how patients perceive the effectiveness of the organization providing their care, develop trust in providers, and see how strong communication is within care teams. 

    Let’s delve into the profound impact of transitions of care on the patient’s personal and emotional experience, explore best practices to measure their effectiveness, and review survey questions that capture vital patient insights. 

    Understanding transitions and their role in care coordination 

    A smooth transition of care has a direct impact on a patient’s overall experience. When these transitions are handled efficiently, patients feel a sense of continuity and trust in healthcare teams. For instance, a patient moving from the emergency department to an inpatient unit should have their medical history, preferences, and concerns effectively communicated. This minimizes confusion, reduces anxiety, and fosters a sense of safety, enhancing the patient’s perception of care. 

    How to gather patient input to improve transitions of care 

    Measuring the quality of transitions of care is vital to continuous improvement. But when do you measure? And how? Real-time, customizable surveys are the key tool you need, and they can provide you with immediate, actionable feedback even in the middle of the patient experience.  

    When to engage patients 

    Traditionally, the patient gets a survey and maybe they fill it out. But usually not immediately. And as time passes, recollection of their experience fades, leading to outdated and inaccurate feedback.

    Instead, try surveying:

    • Shortly after admission:

      Assess the patient’s entry experience to address any immediate concerns.

    • During handoffs:

      Send surveys following critical handoff points, such as when a patient moves between departments or is transferred from one healthcare provider to another.

    • Before discharge:

      Engage patients before discharge to gauge the quality of the overall transition of care and the patient’s understanding of post-discharge instructions.

    • Post-discharge:

      Schedule follow-up surveys after the care transition to measure how it impacted the patient’s experience.  

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    How to engage patients 

    Carefully conducted patient experience surveys can help leaders identify improvement opportunities across the board. However, getting there starts with assessing your approach to patient engagement and how you implement a survey program.

    Here are a few tips: 

    • Customize surveys:

      Tailor surveys to each key transition to ensure questions are relevant and meaningful. 

    • Communicate transparently:

      Share the purpose and benefits of the survey program with patients, emphasizing that their feedback directly contributes to improving care quality. 

    • Use a closed-loop feedback system:

      Implement a closed-loop feedback system where negative responses trigger immediate notifications to appropriate staff, enabling prompt follow-up and service recovery.

    • Share success stories:

      Highlight positive patient feedback and successful transitions of care with your healthcare team to reinforce best practices and boost morale. 

    • Prioritize benchmarking:

      Use survey data to benchmark and compare performance across different locations, departments, or providers.

    • Conduct data analysis:

      Regularly analyze survey data to identify recurring issues, track progress over time, and make informed decisions for targeted improvement efforts across the patient experience.

      Survey Questions to Address Patient Personal and Emotional Experience 

      Effective transitions of care can help prevent readmissions and boost your organization’s reputation. However, when miscommunications occur, the risk of adverse events increases and patients may be put through unnecessary stress, frustration, and potentially, more time in care settings than they’re prepared for.

      These questions can help you assess the patient experience during shifts in care settings:

      • “Did the healthcare team explain the next steps in your care during the transition?”

        This question measures the level of clarity in communications between clinician and patient.

      • “Were your preferences and concerns communicated to the next healthcare provider?”

        This ensures vital patient information is seamlessly transmitted, shows patients that their voice matters, and places focus on personalized care.

      • “Did you feel comfortable during the transition from one department to another?”

        This question helps determine the emotional impact of transitions on patients, highlighting areas where additional support may be needed.

      • “Were you involved in the decision-making process during your transition?”

        This question assesses whether patients were actively included in decisions about their care, empowering them to take ownership of their health journey.

      • “Did the transition of care enhance your confidence in the healthcare team?”

        This question measures whether transitions positively influenced patients’ faith in their healthcare providers.

        Smooth transitions of care aren’t just a convenience – they’re a vital component of compassionate and effective healthcare delivery. A well-coordinated transition of care can transform a potentially stressful process into a seamless, reassuring experience for patients. By employing thoughtful survey questions, healthcare organizations can pave the way for continuous improvement, leading to a higher standard of patient-centered care.

        Patient Engagement Lessons and PX Best Practices From HealthNet

        With patient experience still seen as a major challenge in 2024, it’s clear the healthcare industry has a long way to go in meeting patients’ consumer-centric expectations of care.  

        That’s where HealthNet Community Health Centers stands out from the crowd. Feedtrail’s leadership recently co-hosted a Health Data Management webinar with HealthNet’s Chief Business Development Officer, Carrie Bonsack, to share best practices and lessons learned on HealthNet’s own path to satisfying patient needs. Below are three takeaways. 

        1 Digitize and personalize patient surveys to elevate engagement

        HealthNet used to choose one week a quarter to survey its patients, aiming to get 100 responses from each health center. The surveys were on paper, one-size-fits-all, and generated 1,500 responses — a small fraction of its patient base. Additionally, all this data had to be recorded and manually analyzed before any useful insights could be gleaned to inform decision-making.

        HealthNet now sends its patients short, engaging surveys via text. With the help of Feedtrail’s platform, it can customize questions and send the surveys in three languages. HealthNet now receives an impressive 19,000 responses per year — all of which are delivered instantaneously into the hands of care team members who can act on them in real time.

        HealthNet now receives


        responses per year.

        2Enhance engagement throughout the patient journey

        The most effective PX programs focus on patient engagement, starting before visits and continuing until after patients are discharged. In a July 2022 Patient Experience Maturity Survey, administered across thousands of U.S. healthcare organizations of all sizes, Feedtrail found that 68% of organizations said they need to improve their pre-visit engagement, over a third said they could do better during visits, and only 15% felt their post-discharge surveying was actionable.  

        HealthNet discovered methods for increasing patient engagement at these three distinct touchpoints:

        1Pre-visit: Set expectations 

        When HealthNet started getting a lot of appointment no-shows, it reached out to its patients to learn why. The company found that simple communication before a visit went a long way. For example, discussing possible disruptions with patients in advance of their appointments reduced anxiety and helped them feel supported — encouraging them to show up in the right place at the right time.

        2During the visit: Manage expectations

        Several Feedtrail customers have found that an SMS welcome message puts patients at ease as soon as they walk through the door, while text correspondences about doctors who might be running behind schedule reduce frustration and increase senses of trust and transparency.

        3Post-visit: Exceed expectations

        In addition to personalizing their outreach, healthcare facilities need to extend engagement efforts to families and caregivers, whose feedback is a rich source of insights.

        3 Display the impact of patient experience efforts with data visuals

        Data visualization is a highly effective tool in advancing PX improvement efforts. HealthNet’s board benefited from easy-to-use Feedtrail dashboards that tie patient engagement to hard figures like NPS. Providers and operational leaders can also use Feedtrail’s platform to connect positive changes in patient sentiment to decreases in burnout and improved retention rates.  

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        Chapter 4

        How to Manage Patient Experience Across the Care Journey

        patient and doctor using tablet

        You’ve established a patient experience program to survey individuals within your four walls. But a lot of what goes into the patient experience happens away from your organization, too. Let’s dive into what it takes to meet people where they are at every step of their care journeys.

        Setting Expectations for the Healthcare Experience Before a Visit

        When it comes to the healthcare experience, most people think of what happens at the physician’s office. But the reality is much more complex. For instance, thorough, consistent communication before appointments has been linked to lower no-show rates. But as consumerism increasingly affects patient expectations of care, it’s no longer about calling individuals the day before seeing the doctor. Properly satisfying expectations at the beginning of the healthcare patient journey has become more challenging. Fortunately, you can set the stage long before individuals set foot inside your building.  

        How to Improve Patient Experience in Healthcare From the Start

        Proactively messaging patients about upcoming appointments, important facility updates, or new processes helps ease anxiety and reduce questions before the patient-provider encounter, helping align expectations early, promote satisfaction throughout the healthcare patient journey, and support stronger patient loyalty.

        Here are some effective ways you can set expectations and extend support before visits:

        1 Mass marketing notifications

        Texting is the best way to communicate with individuals, with over half of patients preferring text notifications over emails or phone calls. Mass marketing notifications can get this vital information into the hands of your surrounding communities quickly and efficiently. Among the many patient experience examples from the pandemic, one prominent Los Angeles-area healthcare organization used Feedtrail’s platform to send out targeted messages to families who had received pediatric care at their facilities to let them know its clinics were re-opening with updated safety protocols in place. Within the first week, the provider booked 22 appointments as a result of sending these messages. 

        2Automatic appointment messages

        The pandemic notoriously caused millions of patients to put off appointments for elective (and even necessary) care. Providers should leverage automated appointment reminders to support people returning to the clinical setting. For example, one large, complex outpatient provider team was concerned that COVID was causing a high rate of appointment no-shows and cancellations. They used a scaled-down Feedtrail survey delivered through text message to communicate information about their COVID response and recapture those appointments by offering telehealth alternatives. The initiative was successful, saving over 5,000 appointments that would’ve otherwise never occurred.

        3Tools for understanding SDOH and supporting access

        Modern-day solutions can help providers understand their patients’ challenges to help solve them. With Feedtrail’s assistance, healthcare organizations can drill down into specific, segmented patient populations to pinpoint exactly what gaps they experience when trying to get care. Providers can then leverage this data to develop resources specific to their surrounding communities, removing barriers and creating a more direct throughline to their services and a better overall healthcare experience.

        4 Pre-operative check-ins

        Complex paperwork stresses out patients before procedures. That’s why Feedtrail plugs into your intake workflow and allows patients to complete check-in paperwork in advance, sending key reminders to patients to prepare them for their surgery dates. One prominent organization needed more patients to complete pre-surgery paperwork before arriving at the facility.


        Increase for patients who completed their pre-surgery paperwork within a few weeks of leveraging Feedtrail

        5 Virtual check-ins/Appointment confirmations

        Feedtrail prompts patients to confirm their appointments, taking some of the burden off front-of-office staff and lending a helping hand to individuals so they don’t drop the ball. One organization uses Feedtrail to walk patients through the virtual check-in process and sets up a call with a staff member if the patient still has questions. This application of our platform has helped the provider confirm more than 2,100 appointments.

        6 Simple telehealth login

        Telehealth is no longer a luxury, and every healthcare organization needs a reliable way to get patients through the virtual door. One organization uses Feedtrail to help its patients log into their telehealth portal by sending step-by-step instructions via a helpful link and allowing patients to ask questions that would be answered within 24 hours. Issues with telehealth logins decreased by 35%, and patient opinion of telehealth appointments improved by 41%.


        Improvement for patient opinion of telehealth appointments

        Forward-thinking organizations understand and embrace the fact that patients form opinions — and develop trust — before they enter the doctor’s office. Facilities with the most impressive patient experience examples incorporate a strategy that prioritizes outreach early in the consumer journey.

        Gathering Patient Feedback During a Visit 

        Asking the right questions and making responding easy with simple digital pulse surveys can help you gather in-the-moment patient feedback that provides a true reflection of the patient’s impression of their care. You can also act faster and make smarter improvements that speak to specific patient concerns, which contributes to higher patient satisfaction, engagement, retention, and referrals. Here are some critical touchpoints when all healthcare facilities should be connecting with patients. 

        Patient Experience Best Practices: Assessing Initial Reactions

        Evaluating how patients view your staff and facility while entering appointments can inform operational and efficiency improvements, set a positive tone through increased communication, and make patients feel more valued as you seek their opinions.

        Here are two ways to get useful data at this stage:

        survey icon
        Administer first-impression surveys

        Healthcare consumers have more information than ever to help them shop around and find the best fit for them, so it’s imperative to identify who has never received care at your organization and send out first-impression surveys to understand their initial sentiments. This can be as simple as a one-question text message that produces honest patient feedback unsullied by ensuing doctor-patient interactions, which can significantly shift satisfaction scores.

        inquire icon
        Inquire about the wait experience

        New patients may have already been waiting to schedule an appointment for several weeks, which could lead to frustration. You can respond to wait time complaints by requesting patient feedback on the underlying reasons behind dissatisfaction, which doesn’t always correlate with long waits. One prominent organization that Feedtrail worked with, for example, couldn’t improve its wait time scores even though its average wait time was much shorter than nearby competitors. The actual issue? Boredom, which made the wait seem longer than it really was. 

        Want to Know How to Improve Patient Care? Start by Asking the Patient. 

        Patient-provider relationships are at a crossroads. Among several other eye-opening findings, a recent Harris Poll survey revealed that 47% of adults believe their providers are burned out or overburdened – but at the same time, patients are increasingly calling for better communication-focused skills in those providers.

        Here are a couple of methods to support improvements in this area: 

        provider specific survey icon
        Include more provider-specific surveys

        When used to inform patient experience best practices, provider-specific surveys offer benefits for both patients and clinicians. Quantitative and qualitative feedback can show who your top performers are and why, providing a foundation for learning and for development of department- or organization-wide standards, as well as a platform to highlight your superstars. These surveys can drill down into the communication areas that require more investment to better support patients.  

        analyze transitions care icon
        Analyze transitions of care

        Some of the trickiest moments during the patient experience occur when a new provider takes over, when a patient is moved between departments, or when a patient transitions to home care. Thus, facilities should gather patient feedback during these shifts in care.

        Ensuring a Positive Patient Experience Throughout Journeys

        Don’t forget to ask for pre-discharge patient feedback, too. This allows you to get honest perspectives on common challenges in your facility. Sending messages to your patients during encounters lets you tackle various aspects of PX improvement – providing the ingredients for fulfilling experiences, better quality care, and ongoing operational enhancements.

        Patient Engagement Strategies for Getting Rapid Post-Discharge Feedback 

        The truth is that many patient experience listening tools are sent too late and lack supportive elements to effectively improve engagement. How do organizations improve data collection away from the clinical setting?

        Elevating Data Collection Through a Healthcare Engagement Framework

        Though care journeys aren’t always linear, there are several touchpoints patients commonly witness. And within these distinct steps exist opportunities to engage individuals and better support outstanding patient experiences.

        To effectively reach and support patients post-visit and beyond, Feedtrail recommends a proven rubric of patient engagement strategies, including:

        1Incentivizing comprehensive post-visit patient experience surveys

        These are critical elements of post-discharge patient engagement strategies. While short-and-sweet patient experience surveys usually generate better response rates, occasionally you’ll want to find out more after people leave your hospital or clinic. That’s where incentives, such as offering a chance to win a gift card, can play a key role.

        2Leveraging post-appointment patient engagement technology for follow-up

        Whether making sure individuals take medication as prescribed or resolving billing issues, you want to continue to support people after they leave your facility. Your patients’ outcomes could depend on it. Extending your patient engagement strategies beyond surveys fosters better loyalty and strengthens patient-provider connections.

        3Sending messages to help patients navigate next steps

        Often, a single encounter doesn’t reflect the entirety of a healthcare engagement. Sharing next steps with your patients at the right time through accessible communication channels helps ensure successful continuation and completion of care plans.

        4Sharing post-discharge ”thank you” messages

        A simple “thank you” can go a long way in strengthening patient experiences. Feedtrail sends your desired “thank you” messages automatically and even delivers additional useful information to the patient by directing them to your website, social media review pages, or wherever you’d like patients to go.

        5Supporting transitions of care

        Some of the most vulnerable times during patient experiences occur within gaps between care settings — such as when patients are shifted to different providers, moved between departments, or transitioned to at-home care. Feedtrail can shed light on these fragmented moments so your team can access actionable feedback during times of change.

        6Collecting patient-reported outcomes (PROs)

        One aspect crucial to patient-centered care is monitoring how your patients are doing when they’re not in front of your providers. Sending out quick surveys that help patients self-report blood pressure, blood sugar levels, ongoing symptoms, and more is essential.

        7Surveying for social determinants of health

        Social determinants of health (SDOH) are non-medical factors that influence health outcomes, including income level, education level, and access to transportation. With Feedtrail, provider teams can easily and quickly modify their listening strategies to include demographic questions. Armed with this new information, organizations can improve patient experiences across the populations they serve. 

        8Implementing reputation management

        If your patients have positive experiences, they’ll want to talk about your organization with their friends and family. Automatically direct them to your social media review sites to help your online ratings reflect the incredible services you provide.

        Experience management isn’t complete without a post-visit component. But it’s not as simple as sending out standard questions and waiting to get responses. Smart organizations know that asking the right questions at the right time to the right patients can surface valuable information. They also know that following up after an appointment, helping facilitate at-home care, sending journey-specific reminders, and even shooting off simple “thank you” messages can all help strengthen the bond between patients and care teams.

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        Chapter 5

        Finding a Patient Experience Platform That’s Perfect for You

        doctor and patient using tablet in clinic

        Establishing a solid foundation to improve the patient experience is essential. Now it’s time to get into the details of choosing the best technology for putting ideas into practice.  

        4 Critical Questions to Ask Patient Experience Survey Companies 

        Patient experience surveys have become commonplace in healthcare, but not all survey vendors are the same. Some might offer unique segmentation functions, while others boast novel administration methods. Some deliver results in real time, while others take more time to provide insights.  

        At the end of the day, it’s on healthcare leaders to ask the right questions to make sure survey vendors meet their organizations’ needs.

        Here are some questions you should ask patient experience companies before making a decision.

        • What modes do you use to collect patient experience feedback?

          Understanding the methods survey vendors use to collect patient feedback allows healthcare providers to assess the validity and reliability of the resulting data. A patient experience survey conducted solely through snail mail will lead to lagging results — driving a delay in accurately assessing the patient experience. On the other hand, digital-first platforms that deliver real-time data to providers enhance service recovery efforts based on in-the-moment feedback. Different methods may also capture different aspects of the patient experience, and providers need to choose surveys that align with their priorities and areas of focus. Finally, there’s the regulatory angle. CMS sets quality standards that require certain survey administration methods to collect data. Make sure your vendor accommodates these modes if you must meet these requirements.

        • Can you customize your patient feedback software to my organization’s specific objectives?

          It’s crucial to ensure you adopt patient feedback software that meets your exact needs. Customization capabilities are essential for flexibly implementing surveys that take current patient metrics into account, support your bottom-line objectives, and incorporate essential questions for generating insights you need to make progress with your patient populations.  

          Patients appreciate when
          surveys are personalized and relevant to their experiences. Features such as dynamic content allow organizations to tailor surveys based on patient characteristics or interactions, making the feedback experience more personalized and engaging — improving response rates and quality of information. 

        • How does your patient engagement technology help me extract accurate and reliable insights?

          Innovative patient experience companies offer solutions that boast business intelligence (BI) tools and advanced AI-enabled analytics to help you derive important insights automatically from vast data collections. This includes information about specific challenges, providers who might need extra coaching, and patient segments reporting subpar experiences — while also sharing the “why” behind these results. These technologies also offer analytics features that allow healthcare organizations to monitor their performance over time and track progress toward key patient experience metrics.

        • What makes you different from other patient experience companies?

          Ask for case studies explaining how the vendor’s patient experience solutions have helped organizations they work with. This content can give you a glimpse into exactly how the survey vendor has assisted healthcare providers to listen to their patients, gather important patient experience insights, and ultimately improve.

          Carefully vet how the vendor will support your patient experience goals, meet your patients where they are, improve your patient engagement, and highlight areas for improvement so you can direct resources.

          Aligning Your Needs With a Patient Experience Management Platform

          When it comes to effectively leveraging PX data, it’s essential to choose the right patient experience management platform. The best way to ensure you make a well-informed selection is to outline your organization’s needs to verify any potential platform can meet them.  

          1Narrow down your patient experience goals

          The first step in ensuring your patient experience management platform meets the pressing needs of your organization is to clearly establish your patient experience goals.

          This means understanding your organizational objectives to efficiently blueprint your ideal patient experience management software, and road mapping a discovery process that only includes the right platforms. By outlining your PX goals, you also will be better prepared to secure staff buy-in.

          2Pinpoint specific patient experience metrics you’ll need to collect

          After understanding your organization’s goals, you’ll need to blueprint the exact metrics you need to track progress toward those targets. By officially organizing your patient experience improvement KPIs, you can better gauge a platform’s relevance to existing patient experience efforts. For example, if you’re focusing on enhancing the discharge process, you might need survey questions specifically tailored to gather feedback on discharge instructions and follow-up care.

          You can also gauge a vendor’s customization capabilities and flexibility. Not all patient survey software solutions offer the same level of customization. By outlining specific patient experience metrics, you can assess whether the software allows for tailored survey questions, response options, and reporting features to meet your unique needs.

          3Involve decision-makers at every level prior to choosing a patient survey software

          Choosing a patient experience management platform doesn’t just affect one aspect of your organization. It can impact several layers of operations. For example, it’s important to include the right decision-makers from every level — from individual units to administrative offices — to align technologies with workflows.

          Understanding how any platform might impact the well-being of your employees is paramount for choosing technologies that won’t place more stress on your workforce or add administrative work to already overwhelmed staff. This step also ensures proper integration and implementation. Including stakeholders from across your organization can help ensure you’re equipped with the right knowledge to avoid any hiccups with existing technologies as you move through the buying process.

          4Narrow your patient survey software options to comprehensive technologies

          Simply put, point solutions can cause more operational friction. Non-integrated, single-use software typically requires the same implementation steps as more comprehensive platforms. But it also demands that care teams open entirely different programs outside of their frequently used applications — causing extra steps that can potentially contribute to more stress and less efficiency.

          Platforms also offer more value. Though they tend to be pricier, they typically offer greater impact to several areas of your organization.

          5Segment possible solutions by survey administration method

          Choosing the right administration mode can impact how well you create a seamless experience for patients during data collection. Choose platforms that use digital-first methods of collecting information during patient visits to extend convenience to your data collection processes. 

          Also, make sure any survey delivery method meets your regulatory standards. According to CMS, over 4,000 hospitals participate in HCAHPS each year. If that includes your organization, you’ll need to consider how your patient experience surveying fulfills specific quality standard measurement regulations.  

          By identifying your organization’s goals, deciding on the exact metrics you need to make improvements, listening to stakeholders at multiple levels, prioritizing platforms over point solutions, and understanding your survey administration requirements, you’ll be in an optimal position to make an informed patient survey software decision.

          Advance the Patient Experience With Innovation 

          There’s no question the patient experience is critical to driving any healthcare organization’s success. It touches every aspect of running a sustainable and effective operation — from generating loyalty to meeting regulatory requirements. 

          By having a comprehensive understanding of how the patient experience continues to evolve, a deep knowledge of your organization’s unique needs, and a proven rubric for selecting the right experience management platform, you can feel confident in building and maintaining effective improvement initiatives. And as you see the results of these efforts, you’ll witness compelling change across multiple areas of your organization. 

          Here at Feedtrail, we know that making progress in the patient experience means streamlining data to care teams for quicker service recovery, communicating with patients in ways they’re comfortable with, and drilling down into the details to unpack the exact barriers to high-quality care. 

          Are you ready to level up your patient experience program? Get started by speaking with a Feedtrail expert

          Care Necessities eBook

          Get your PDF copy of Care Necessities: A Simple Guide to Elevating Patient Experience.

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