Promoting Healthcare Equity with the Next Generation of Patient Experience Surveys
Those of us in the healthcare space strive to fine-tune our processes and operations in the pursuit of better outcomes, constantly looking for ways to improve the safety and quality of care. The downside of such a strong focus on results is that other important factors — like diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) — often don’t get the attention they deserve.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a sea change, opening many people’s eyes to the limitations of our hospitals and clinics — from the lack of an ability to address care disparities driven by racial residential segregation to adverse health outcomes among Black women, who were more at risk for job loss and food insecurity, two important factors in the social determinants of health.
Since 2020, many organizations have made significant investments in resources for those who encounter barriers to receiving quality care, but how do healthcare leaders ensure they’re distributing those resources fairly, and that they’re meeting the most pressing needs of the populations they serve? Where do they turn to increase access, improve outcomes, and ensure patients feel seen, heard, and supported — regardless of their ethnicity, faith, race, immigration status, or anything else that might hold them back from getting the care they deserve?
One key piece of the puzzle is personalized outreach and surveys that produce unique and timely insights, set staff and clinicians up for vital and lasting change, and show patients that their needs are your priority.
“One Size Fits All” Doesn’t Work
For too long, the surveying and patient engagement landscape was “one size fits all.” Patients would get the same questionnaire whether they came in for a behavioral health appointment, childbirth, or an emergency department visit.
It sounds sort of crazy. And it is – but not just because those experiences represent different types of care. Patient engagement and satisfaction efforts have also historically shown a lack of recognition of the varying perspectives that individual patients bring to the table.
When I take my son to the pediatrician, for example, I notice things my wife doesn’t, and she notices things I don’t. We all go to our doctors with different perceptions, preferences, and cultural backgrounds. Patients want awareness of this and to be treated like individuals, not numbers – look no further than the many articles and surveys that report a common desire for better one-to-one patient/provider relationships and genuine empathy and connection – ideals that have proven difficult to achieve due to staffing shortages.
Patients need to know their healthcare providers care about and take into account their opinions and preferences. Once a patient feels acknowledged and supported, the qualitative insights you can glean are remarkable. It opens the doors of communication much wider, offering patients and families a forum to share their experiences (or what they prefer to experience) candidly and conveniently. It’s an incredibly powerful way for patients and their families to make their voices heard, it’s how we improve diversity and inclusion, and it’s how we can work toward real equity in healthcare.
Going Beyond Patient Experience
In practice, healthcare equity is about being intentional with outreach — beyond simply inquiring about an individual’s experience or reminding them of an upcoming appointment, asking subjective questions builds trust and a stronger connection with your organization. But ultimately, it’s about educating patients so they’re equipped to get the healthcare they need in the most convenient way and helping them to achieve better health outcomes that will last long after a clinic visit or a hospital stay.
Private and public resources — whether available through support communities or corporate initiatives — can be invaluable to patients. So in addition to surveys, healthcare providers should identify a patient engagement solution that connects their patients with useful and relevant resources. Letting patients know about the availability of rides to get to their appointments, free childcare at the facility, or the option for telehealth visits goes a long way to removing barriers to inclusion.
There’s a Platform For That
Feedtrail clients use our XM platform for all kinds of outreach and engagement as well as measuring patient satisfaction with real-time, convenient digital surveys (instead of cumbersome paper versions sent after healthcare visits). For example, a hospital can send text-message-based surveys while a patient or their family is still on site, with the questions and prompts you might expect:
- How was your overall experience?
- Did your provider listen to you?
- Please rate your check-in experience.
But many clients go beyond these broader questions and dive deeper with prompts like:
- How comfortable did you feel being your authentic self in our care?
- Did you face any barriers in scheduling or making it to your appointment?
- Did you feel like your cultural background and beliefs were respected and valued during your visit?
These questions reveal much more than generic ratings ever could and let patients know their provider takes their individual needs and personal belief systems into consideration. This ultimately increases patients’ confidence in your providers and the care received, forming the cornerstone for healthcare equity.
Equity-focused surveys help healthcare organizations transform the way they care for patients by understanding what makes a truly exceptional experience, what resources or support services patients have been missing, and what they can do to improve scores in specific areas.
The Feedtrail platform further helps organizations develop a culture of celebration by easily highlighting and acknowledging behavior, achievements, and customer use cases that are in line with their core values. When an organization decides to prioritize DEI, Feedtrail makes sure everyone on the team can feel and appreciate those efforts.
Get more DEI-related survey questions for your patients and workforce:
Ensuring Equitable Care for All
Health equity is a multifaceted challenge. Achieving it includes welcoming and accepting people from historically marginalized communities, who often haven’t felt seen and heard in this way, fostering awareness of and helping to reduce the barriers they encounter, doing the hard work of evaluating where you have gaps in care delivery that adversely impact specific demographics, and committing to real change.
By monitoring patients’ and families’ perspectives on their healthcare visits and hospital stays — as well as their comfort with the accessibility of care — Feedtrail aims to help our clients better understand and engage with all patients. At the same time, we want to empower thoughtful development of community health programs and the resources that support them, all in pursuit of quality, accessible care for all.
What can Feedtrail’s platform help your healthcare organization achieve? Request a demo today.