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Conducting Effective Patient Care Experience Surveys - Why sensitivity is the key

Free Download: Enhance your Patient Experience program by using these major PX trends. Increase Patient Satisfaction. Reduce Churn. 



Healthcare data is a closely guarded secret between multiple stakeholders: There’s the doctors, the healthcare facility, and the patients themselves. The data involved is deeply personal, and can make it quite a challenge to conduct in-depth patient care experience surveys.

Researchers in the healthcare sector are faced with the problem of dwindling response rates, response accuracy and low attempt rates as well. 

However, one can counteract these issues by keeping a few key points in mind:

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Deal with privacy concerns first

The privacy and sanctity of customers’ medical data is of the utmost importance – in a study conducted by The Health Research Institute more than half of respondents, 56 percent, said privacy and security of medical information might affect their decisions to tell physicians “everything” about their conditions.
Respondents often shy away from surveys simply because they fear their data may get compromised. It’s important to make them aware of your security protocols and to assure them that their privacy is extremely important to you. 

You can also try conducting surveys where respondents have the option to remain anonymous as it can help increase response rates.

Make sure your Patient Care Experience surveys have a clear goal

You need to first decide what exactly it is that you wish to achieve from your surveys. It can help you decide which touchpoints would be most effective to get respondents for that particular survey. People are also far more likely to attempt surveys which they feel are relevant to their interests. 

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Conducting Patient Care Experience surveys with sensitivity can net better results

Patient Care Experience surveys can cover an extremely wide spectrum of topics. Whether it’s questions related to mental health, drug use or sexual history, it’s natural for respondents to shy away from answering them. 

You need to ensure that these questions are asked in a sensitive manner. You should also make sure that these questions are asked via the right channel. Respondents may be more comfortable answering them via online surveys rather than face-to-face or even over a phone survey. 

Should you need to include sensitive questions as part of a large survey, you could try placing them near the end of the survey and avoid early drop off rates.

– You must try and leverage communication techniques that can alleviate anxiety. This can be achieved by being completely transparent about your objectives from the survey.

– Respondents should also be made to feel that their problems are smaller than they appear to be. You can normalize their “problem” – state that many people are facing a particular issue or concern, and are your respondents facing the same. The power of the collective should help put the respondents at ease. 

– Sometimes, no amount of convincing will be enough. You can always give your respondents the option to skip the question. This can reduce drop-off rates as well.

Have multiple avenues handy to approach your respondents

Modern omnichannel survey software platforms have multiple channels and survey modes with which they can survey. You can choose your channel to best suit the touchpoint at which you wish to conduct your patient care experience survey. 

Online Surveys can be used when you need to query the respondents on sensitive subjects, or when the surveys are lengthy. Patients are far more likely to participate in these surveys if they’ve been requested by their doctor or their primary point of contact at your facility. 

of Gen Y patients say they would switch doctors for one with better online access (See footnote 1)
0 %

Patients are more tech savvy than ever – With online surveys you can leverage their familiarity with technology to easily glean insights.

Offline Surveys are best used for situations where the questionnaire isn’t too long, and can be taken by the respondents while in the waiting area itself, for example. These can be an effective tool to gauge your hospital facilities and amenities, and if they’re resonating well with your customers.

58% of Gen Z, Millenials and Gen Xers and 63% of those 55 and older say responsiveness to follow-up questions via email or phone outside of the appointment is critically or very important to their overall satisfaction

Phone/CATI Surveys are likely to give higher response rates as well as lower drop off rates. A skillful agent can conduct even longer surveys easily via phone surveys. However, this may not be the best channel for querying your respondents on sensitive issues.

No leading questions!

It can be tempting to want to elicit certain responses in your surveys, but it is essential to avoid creating surveys which have leading questions. Respondents can often see right through them, and this will reflect negatively on your organization. This goes both ways – you need to be sure if your respondents are likely to give you unbiased feedback. You can learn more about avoiding survey bias here.

You must restrict your surveys to ask for facts, not judgements. Try keeping your questions as close-ended as possible.

Your survey results need to have context

It’s important to have context for your results. Satisfaction metrics like CSAT are great for gauging patient satisfaction at that particular point of time at a specific touchpoint, but it’s important to repeat these surveys and benchmark against yourself. Tools like Voxco’s omnichannel survey software allow you to benchmark against industry competition as well.

Incentivizing surveys can be useful!

If you’re struggling to get an adequate number of respondents for your surveys or you’re getting low completes, then you should consider incentivizing your surveys. The promise of a reward is usually enough to convince respondents to sincerely participate in and complete your surveys.

Want to measure and improve the patient care experience of your healthcare system? Check out our Patient Experience Hub and get a jump start on measurably improving the quality of your healthcare services.

Footnote 1: Source  

Voxco is trusted by Top 50 Market Research firms, Global Brands & Universities in 40 countries. Voxco offers full omnichannel capability including CATI, Predictive Dialler, Online surveys, offline CAPI, and Panel Management.

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Sidhant Shori is a Content Marketer at Voxco. He's got a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science Engineering and leverages his interest in market trends as well as his experience in creating content. He's also a Sci-Fi geek and enjoys video games and movies and also likes reading thrillers.


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