Improving Healthcare Equity through Patient Experience Surveys


Healthcare inequities persist across the United States, affecting racial and ethnic minorities disproportionately. Despite legislative efforts and growing awareness of healthcare disparities, these issues remain deeply entrenched.

A recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine highlights how structural racism and environmental factors contribute to poorer health outcomes for minorities, including higher rates of maternal and infant mortality, lower life expectancy, and increased prevalence of chronic diseases.

In light of these challenges, patient experience surveying can play a crucial role in identifying and addressing these disparities. By systematically gathering and analyzing patient feedback, healthcare organizations can gain valuable insights into the specific needs and experiences of minority populations.


How Patient Experience Surveys Can Help Improve Healthcare Equity:


  1. Identifying Gaps in Care

Patient experience surveys can uncover specific areas where minority patients feel underserved or discriminated against. By asking targeted questions about patients’ interactions with healthcare providers, access to services, and overall satisfaction, healthcare organizations can identify patterns that indicate systemic issues.

  1. Enhancing Cultural Competency

The report underscores the need for a more diverse healthcare workforce to better serve minority communities. Patient surveys can provide feedback on cultural competency, helping to identify training needs for healthcare providers. Understanding patients’ cultural backgrounds and preferences is essential for delivering respectful and effective care. Leveraging patient experience data, an organization can quickly know if their patients feel that their community is both represented and understood.

  1. Monitoring Progress and Accountability

Regularly conducting patient experience surveys allows healthcare organizations to track progress over time. By setting benchmarks and monitoring improvements, organizations can hold themselves accountable for reducing disparities. Transparent reporting of survey results can also build trust within communities. This means that organizations must ask questions that they are willing to impact. It does a disservice to ask questions that an organization has no intentions of making better.

  1. Empowering Patients

Patient surveys give a voice to those who might otherwise be marginalized within the healthcare system. When patients see that their feedback leads to tangible improvements, they are more likely to engage with healthcare services, leading to better health outcomes.


Recommendations for Effective Patient Experience Surveys

To maximize the impact of patient experience surveys in addressing racial and ethnic inequities, healthcare organizations should consider the following recommendations:

Ensure Survey Accessibility: Surveys should be available in multiple languages and formats to accommodate all patients, including those with limited English proficiency or disabilities.

Use Culturally Sensitive Questions: Design survey questions that are aware of cultural differences and experiences and ask patients to rate the organization’s success in providing culturally appropriate care.

Get the Right Information: To know where feedback is coming from, you must ensure that your data is capturing patient demographics. This means healthcare organizations must collect the correct information from patients regarding their race, ethnicity, and language. The importance of these fields must be appreciated by all, from the front-line staff collecting the information to data analysts who are looking at the outcomes.

Analyze and Act on Data: Regularly review survey results and implement changes based on the feedback received. Communicate these changes back to the community to show that their input is valued. Most importantly, make real changes that will impact communities who have poorer health outcomes. This exercise must not check a box, but instead should drive real change.


Wrapping Up

Addressing racial and ethnic inequities in healthcare requires a multifaceted approach. Patient experience surveys are a powerful tool that can provide the insights needed to drive meaningful change. By actively listening to and acting on patient feedback, healthcare organizations can create a more equitable and effective healthcare system.



The Care Necessities: A SimpleGuide to Elevating Patient Experience

About Mallory Magelli McKeown, Customer Success: Meet Mallory, a healthcare professional dedicated to improving the patient experience. With a background in roles like chaplain and family advocate, Mallory’s mission is simplifying healthcare for patients and families. From advisory councils to patient advocacy, she amplifies the patient’s voice. At Feedtrail, she redefines the patient-provider relationship, asking vital questions to guide healthcare leaders toward patient-centered changes. Her goal: revolutionizing healthcare by putting patients’ needs first.