Patient Feedback That Organizations Should Gather During a Visit

Ashley Worrall
by Ashley Worrall
February 13th

Every healthcare organization sends its patients post-discharge satisfaction surveys, but those efforts capture an incomplete and potentially inaccurate picture of how patients view your organization and care delivery. The partial insights they produce also tend to sit around unused. If you’re not intentionally engaging with and learning from patients while they’re physically within the walls of your organization, you’re missing a massive opportunity to ensure a consistently positive patient experience.

When you ask the right questions and make responding easy with simple digital pulse surveys, you can gather in-the-moment patient feedback that provides a true reflection of the patient’s impression of their care. This allows you to act faster and make smarter improvements that speak to specific patient concerns, which ultimately contributes to higher patient satisfaction, engagement, retention, and referrals. There are several critical touchpoints when all healthcare facilities should be checking in with patients.

Free eBook – Engaging Your Patients: Pre, During, and Post Encounter

Patient Experience Best Practices: Assessing Initial Reactions

Before patients even see a doctor, you need to evaluate how they view your staff and facility, which 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 intelligence at this stage:

Distribute first-impression surveys

A steady rise in digital tools and the accessibility of online reviews means healthcare consumers have more information than ever to help them shop around and find the best fit for them, so it’s invaluable to identify which patients have 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. When you know how individuals feel or what support they lack as they first walk through your doors, you can, for example, create effective welcome messages with tailored language and answers to common questions, which can help combat churn and ease anxiety.

Inquire about the wait experience

Before they even get to your facility, new patients may have already been waiting to schedule an appointment for several weeks. Their impatience and aggravation at the slow pace of the typical care journey is also reflected in wait time’s consistent appearance as the lowest-rated patient experience metric. You can respond by requesting patient feedback on the underlying reasons behind wait time 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. In that case, adding entertainment for adults and children in the waiting room improved satisfaction scores – even for longer wait times.

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

Of course, one of the most important linchpins of a positive patient experience is the patient-provider dynamic. And there’s never been a more important time to ensure that that core relationship – and the larger clinical team’s approach to care coordination – are patient-centric.

Why now? We’re 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, such as listening, empathy, and respect, which are difficult to develop when staffing issues don’t allow for much face-to-face time. It’s a definite conundrum, but there are methods to support improvements in the delivery of care:

Implement More Provider-Specific Surveys

When used not as a punitive measure but a key element of your patient experience best practices, provider-specific surveys actually hold 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 organizationwide 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. They also offer a chance to improve patient education – because, while 90% of patients say their doctors answer all their questions, just 63% report that their providers always explain things in a way they understand. By asking open-ended questions about what patients need to feel comfortable and contribute to their own care decisions, you’re better equipped to enhance provider-patient trust and support positive outcomes.

Free eBook – Engaging Your Patients: Pre, During, and Post Encounter

Assess Transitions of Care

Some of the trickiest aspects of patient experience are in the white spaces between care settings – when a new provider takes over, when a patient is moved between departments, or when a patient transitions to home care. When not handled correctly, these often-untracked moments can create confusion, delays, and/or a feeling of being unsettled for patients on the move, so facilities should gather patient feedback around them. One inpatient organization, for example, noticed that its PX scores were declining among patients with longer stays. After trying several tactics to improve various aspects of care, leaders worked with Feedtrail to develop transition-of-care questions, through which they learned that communication during the handoff between care providers needed to be improved. Once that issue was resolved, PX scores began to rise again.

Ensuring a Positive Patient Experience Throughout an Engagement

As a final step in surveying patients while they’re onsite, ask for pre-discharge patient feedback. This allows you to retain the ability to fix problems in the moment and get honest final perspectives on common challenges in your facility. In its work with Feedtrail, one organization that was happy with its experience scores but hoping for more insightful feedback shifted the timeframe of its surveys. Instead of sending them out the day after the patient’s appointment, staff delivered them a few hours before patients left the facility. The organization’s PX scores stayed high, plus it started receiving thoughtful observations that helped identify areas for improvement, such as prepping patients for a seamless discharge.

Sending messages to your patients during encounters lets you have your cake and eat it, too – providing the ingredients for fulfilling experiences, better quality care, and ongoing operational enhancements. Let Feedtrail help you solve the riddle of how to improve patient care by bringing visibility to areas of your service you may have never considered before. Reach out to explore more patient experience best practices today.

Ebook – Engaging Your Patients: Pre, During, and Post Encounter