Along with third-party ratings and reviews, healthcare organizations can leverage another vital feedback source to help improve online reputation and patient experience: digital patient surveys.

In today’s consumer-driven society, understanding and acting on the digital patient voice is vital to influencing patient acquisition and loyalty. Healthcare consumers are spending more time online researching and evaluating their healthcare decisions. A recent national survey conducted by OnePoll, and commissioned by Binary Fountain, found that 75% of Americans say online ratings and review sites have influenced their decision when selecting a physician. Along with third-party ratings and reviews, healthcare organizations can leverage another vital feedback source to help improve online reputation and patient experience: digital patient surveys. Healthcare organizations can drive engagement through survey programs that help them understand and act on where they need to improve, deliver fast service recovery, and uncover advocates. Below are a few tips for executing successful survey campaigns.

Make surveys appear effortless

Healthcare organizations need to send patients surveys as close to the time of care as possible. Patients remember more about their experience if they can complete a survey within a short timeframe of their appointment. Keep the surveys brief (limit the amount of questions to what’s important), questions succinct, easy to fill out (for example, questions involve rating on a scale of 1 to 5) and offer an optional comment box to capture the “why” behind their responses. This will encourage patients to complete the survey and help healthcare organizations capture accurate and timely data.

Aaron Clifford

You can simplify it even further to elevate your patient’s engagement with surveys. Testimonial campaigns allow practices to send a quick e-mail or text message to patients with a one-question survey, such as “rate your visit on a 10-point scale.” If the patient, for example, rates their experience between an 8 and 10, they can be prompted to post an online review. However, if the patient ranks their experience at a lower score, they can be directed to a survey comment box below where they can share their feedback with the provider. This approach can help generate online reviews quickly and capture feedback that can be used for service recovery and improving patient experience.

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Meet patients where they are

Today’s busy consumer is constantly inundated with information delivered to them over multiple devices. To ensure a better response rate, healthcare organizations should ask their patients if it’s ok to send communications by e-mail and/or text messaging. Make sure your healthcare system’s survey outreach is e-mail, mobile and text friendly.

Surveying in person can be effective, too. Some healthcare providers ask their patients to complete the survey right at the end of their doctor’s appointment. We’ve seen one physician group achieve a 33% response rate by offering a survey on an iPad at check out.

Track Performance

You’re investing in improving online reputation management and patient experience with these survey campaigns. Benchmarking performance will help you adapt and optimize campaigns so you can boost results. For driving survey utilization, track metrics like click throughs, surveys completed, text messaging versus e-mail channel performance, as well as which subject lines and templates are working best. If you’re A/B testing, you can use this information to quickly refine your campaigns.

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For impact, baseline and track your overall and category-specific patient experience scores over time. How did your organization score in areas like physician bedside manner, timely care and courtesy of front desk staff? You’ll also want to examine the volume of surveys completed over the same period. Did your survey scores and volume go up monthly, quarterly, annually? You should also monitor the volume and scores for online ratings and reviews, especially if you’re running testimonial campaigns.

To take full advantage of patient engagement, healthcare systems should invest in patient feedback management platforms. These platforms can manage online survey campaigns and analyze information across all digital sources of feedback, providing actionable insights into the patient experience. With the right technology, healthcare organizations can scale their efforts to engage with patients directly and request feedback in non-invasive ways.

In conclusion, the success of patient surveys is dependent on taking the patient and their digital user experience into account. Additionally, healthcare organizations need to be proactive about connecting with their patients if they want to see strong results. As healthcare consumerism continues to rise, capturing patient feedback will become even more critical. Now more than ever before, it’s imperative for healthcare organizations to adopt effective methods for persuading patients to respond and engage with their surveys.

Aaron Clifford is the senior vice president of marketing at Binary Fountain, a provider of patient feedback management programs and services.

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