4 Critical Questions to Ask Patient Experience Survey Companies

Ryan Phillips
by Ryan Phillips, Customer Success 
March 19th

Patient experience surveys have become commonplace in healthcare. For instance, from a regulatory standpoint, over 4,000 hospitals use them every year to meet their Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (HCAHPS) requirements —measurements the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) uses to ensure providers meet certain patient experience standards.  But not all survey vendors are built the same. Some offer unique segmentation functions, while others boast novel administration methods. Some deliver results in real time, while others provide insights well after the patient has left your facility.   At the end of the day, it’s on you to ask the tough questions to make sure survey vendors meet your organization’s needs. So, let’s dive into some questions you should ask patient experience companies before making a purchasing decision. 

1. What methods 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. Different approaches can yield varying levels of accuracy, timeliness, and depth.   For example, a patient experience survey conducted solely through snail mail will innately 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 give care teams a greater ability to understand their patients’ pain points and rapidly intervene to address them — enhancing service recovery efforts based on in-the-moment feedback. Moreover, understanding how the data is collected allows organizations to assess the relevance and applicability of the data to their specific contexts. Different methods may capture different aspects of the patient experience, and providers need to choose surveys that align with their priorities and areas of focus. For instance, some surveys may emphasize patient satisfaction with clinical outcomes, while others may focus on communication with healthcare providers or access to care.  Then there’s the regulatory component. CMS sets quality standards that require certain survey administration methods to collect data. It’s therefore imperative to make sure your vendor accommodates these modes if you must meet these requirements.  

2. Can you customize your patient feedback software to our specific needs and goals? 

You arrange a discovery call with a survey vendor. You like what you see and sign an agreement. But when it comes time to roll out your new patient feedback software, you notice questions asked that have little to do with your organization’s improvement goals. This misalignment can lead to less staff buy-in, a lack of interest in the resulting data, and little information that can help you move the needle.  That’s why 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 giving you the right insights to make progress with your patient populations. Additionally, patient feedback software should be able to integrate with electronic health records (EHRs), patient portals, and other systems to streamline data collection and reporting processes — maximizing efficiency and reducing administrative burden.  The data collection process benefits from this customization, too. 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 for patients — supporting response rates and quality. 

3. How does your patient engagement technology help you glean accurate and reliable insights? 

After you select a patient engagement technology, you’ll start collecting massive amounts of data. But how easily can you glean insights and actionable information?  Forward-thinking patient experience companies offer solutions that incorporate business intelligence (BI) tools and advanced AI-enabled analytics to help you navigate through the noise and surface important insights automatically. The subsequent information includes specific problem areas, notifies you of providers who might need extra coaching, and highlights patient segments reporting subpar experiences — while also sharing the “why” behind all these results.   Notably, innovative patient experience technologies boast analytics features that allow healthcare organizations to monitor their performance over time and track progress toward key patient experience metrics. By analyzing trends and benchmarking against internal goals or external standards, organizations can identify areas of strength and areas for improvement, enabling them to focus resources and efforts where they’re needed most.

4. What sets you apart from other patient experience companies? 

The truth is that you won’t know how well patient experience companies meet your goals without taking some sort of risk to partner with them. However, there are steps you can take to verify each vendor’s capabilities — starting with asking what sets them apart.  Ask for customer stories 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. Make sure to share the metrics, KPIs, and regulatory requirements that align with your organization’s goals to ensure the vendor can support them and see if they’ve worked with similar organizations in the past.

See Feedtrail’s Experience Management (XM) Platform in action with our latest case studies.

Ask the Right Questions to Choose the Right Patient Engagement Technology 

Patient experience surveys are table stakes in the modern healthcare landscape. Unfortunately, that means more patient experience companies are entering the field — making it much more difficult to choose the right survey vendor.  Luckily, with the right questions, you can discern which patient experience companies are best fit for your organization’s needs. 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.  At Feedtrail, we’re happy to provide every healthcare organization interested in patient experience improvement with everything they need to make the right survey vendor decision. Contact us today to learn more about how our real-time healthcare experience management technology can help you unlock new levels of patient satisfaction.