Quality Control

How to Get Patient Feedback: Methods and Best Practices

Learn how to collect patient feedback, compare different methods, and get useful insights for continuous improvement.
February 26, 2024
8 minutes

Patient feedback is the cornerstone of enhancing the healthcare experience. Listening to patients helps identify and rectify operational and quality issues, helping you provide a more personalized and positive experience. This can be the difference between a thriving clinic and one that's merely surviving.

In this article, we are going to compare various methods you can use to actively collect patient feedback. We will look at their pros, cons, implementation cost, scalability, and a bunch of other factors. 

Let’s get right into it.

What is patient feedback and when is the best time to ask for it?

Patient feedback is the collection of suggestions, complaints, opinions, and experiences shared by patients regarding their interactions with a healthcare provider. This feedback encompasses a wide range of areas, from the quality of medical care received to the politeness of the staff and the ambiance of the facility.

Patient feedback serves as a valuable tool for healthcare providers to: 

  • understand the patient's perspective
  • gauge their satisfaction levels
  • identify quality gaps and areas that need to be improved
  • ensure compliance with industry standards (like providing evidence for the new CQC framework)
  • find what their patient care about the most and use that information to improve their marketing and acquisition efforts

Based on our internal data, the optimal time to solicit patient feedback is 24 to 48 hours after their visit. The experience is still fresh, but with enough time to reflect and provide genuine opinions.

How do you get feedback from patients?

Collecting feedback is an art and a science. With the right methods, you can gather insights that are both deep and actionable. Let's dive into some of the most effective ways.

A table comparing patient feedback collection methods based on variety of factors.

Mobile surveys

Mobile surveys are a popular method to gather patient feedback. These are concise, automated surveys sent directly to a patient's mobile device after their appointment.

Pros:

  1. Accessibility: Can reach patients anytime, anywhere, increasing the likelihood of timely responses.
  2. Cost-effective: Lower costs compared to traditional methods, as they eliminate the paperwork and time consuming manual data entry.
  3. Real-time analysis: Immediate data collection and analysis capabilities, facilitating quick corrections.
  4. Scalability: Extremely easy to scale, with very little cost increase.

Cons:

  1. Technology barriers: Not all patients may have access to or be comfortable using mobile technology, potentially excluding certain demographics.
  2. Potentially lower completion rates: Surveys need to be well-crafted and concise to ensure patients actually complete and submit their feedback.

Online feedback forms

Online feedback forms, typically hosted on the clinic's website, offer patients the flexibility to provide feedback at their own pace. These forms can be detailed, allowing patients to elaborate on specific aspects of their experience.

Online feedback form for patients example.
Snapshot of an online patient feedback form. Source: HSE

Pros:

  1. Convenience: Patients can complete feedback forms at their own pace and convenience.
  2. Anonymity: Patients may feel more comfortable providing comprehensive and honest feedback anonymously online.

Cons:

  1. Limited accessibility: Assumes all patients have internet access, are comfortable using online tools, and know where to go to submit their feedback.
  2. Lower engagement: Online forms are often ignored or overlooked, similar to email surveys.
  3. Data quality concerns: The anonymity of online feedback can sometimes lead to less thoughtful responses or misuse.

Email surveys

Similar to mobile surveys, email surveys are automated questionnaires sent to patients after their visits. They can be tailored to gather specific feedback and can be more in-depth than mobile surveys.

Pros:

  1. Wide reach: Emails can be sent to a large number of patients quickly and efficiently.
  2. Cost-effective: Email surveys have minimal costs and can be easily scaled up or down.

Cons:

  1. Spam filters: Emails containing surveys may be automatically filtered into spam folders, reducing visibility.
  2. Engagement issues: Patients may overlook or delete survey emails without opening them, leading to low response rates.
  3. Lack of personalization: The impersonal nature of email communication may not engage patients as effectively as more direct methods.

Phone calls and in-person surveys

Phone calls and in-person surveys offer a personal touch. By having a real conversation, healthcare providers can delve deeper into a patient's experience, asking follow-up questions to quantify and clarify different issues.

Pros:

  1. Personal touch: Direct interaction can enhance patient engagement and yield more detailed feedback.
  2. Clear answers: When engaged in conversation, the person doing the survey can ask for clarifications and remove any ambiguities from the answers.

Cons:

  1. Resource intensive: Requires significant time and staff resources to conduct.
  2. Intrusiveness: Some patients may find unsolicited calls intrusive or disruptive.
  3. Bias in responses: The presence of an interviewer may influence patients' responses, potentially affecting the authenticity of the feedback.

Paper surveys

While they might seem old-fashioned, paper surveys handed out at the clinic can capture immediate reactions and are accessible to those not comfortable with digital methods. They can be filled out while waiting or immediately after a consultation.

Pros:

  1. Simplicity: Easy to understand and fill out for many, especially the older population.
  2. No tech required: Accessible to patients without internet access or digital literacy.

Cons:

  1. Inefficient: Requires additional resources to input data into a digital format for analysis — which is time consuming and prone to errors.
  2. Environmental impact: Wastes paper, which can also easily get lost or damaged.
  3. Lower response rates: Paper surveys are often disregarded by patients.

Feedback kiosks

These are digital interfaces, like tablets, positioned at the clinic, allowing patients to leave feedback before departure.

Example of a feedback kiosk at the Victoria Hospital.
Example of a feedback kiosk at the Victoria Hospital. Source: TheVICFoundation

Pros:

  1. Immediate feedback: Located on-site, they allow for real-time feedback collection.
  2. User-friendly interface: Touchscreen interfaces can facilitate easy and quick responses.

Cons:

  1. Cost: Initial setup costs can be significant.
  2. Maintenance required: Regular maintenance is needed to ensure functionality.
  3. Limited reach: Only captures feedback from those physically present at the location.

Comment boxes

Comment boxes, placed strategically within the clinic, offer an avenue for anonymous feedback. They are great for candid, unfiltered opinions. The feedback might lack structure though, and there's a need for regular collection and analysis.

Pros:

  1. Anonymity: Allows patients to leave feedback anonymously, potentially leading to more honest responses.
  2. Simple and low-tech: Easy to implement and use, requiring minimal instruction.
  3. Low cost: Inexpensive to set up and maintain.

Cons:

  1. Unstructured feedback: Can result in a wide range of feedback quality and relevance.
  2. Inefficient: Requires additional resources to collect responses and input data into a digital format for analysis.

How to get feedback you can act upon

Feedback isn't just about collecting raw data — you need actionable insights that can drive tangible improvements. It’s important to know how patients feel, but it's even more crucial to understand why they feel that way, and what specific changes can enhance their experience. 

Here are some methods and tips to ensure the feedback you receive is both insightful and actionable.

Send well-structured surveys 

Crafting a well-thought-out questionnaire is the foundation of insightful feedback. Ensure your questions are clear and concise. In general, closed-ended questions should target one specific area (issue, process, procedure, doctor…). 

Open-ended questions can provide depth, while Likert scale questions (rated from 1-5) can offer a quick gauge of satisfaction. Always include a mix to capture both quantitative and qualitative data.

Utilize digital feedback platforms 

Utilize platforms that allow patients to provide feedback at their own pace. This can be especially useful for patients who might want to highlight nuanced issues or provide a more detailed account of their experience at their own pace.

Moreover, it is so much easier to aggregate and analyze feedback that comes in a digital form. 

Use anonymous feedback channels for sensitive issues 

Some patients might hold back from providing candid feedback due to privacy concerns. Offering anonymous feedback channels can encourage more honest and open responses, ensuring you capture potential areas of improvement that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Keep the questionnaires up-to-date 

As your internal processes and services evolve, so should your feedback mechanisms. Regularly review and update your questionnaires to ensure they remain relevant to the current patient experience.

Act and communicate 

Once you've collected feedback, it's time to act upon it. Implement changes based on the insights gathered. Then communicate these changes to your patients. This not only shows that you value their feedback but also encourages more patients to share their experiences in the future.

By implementing these tips and maintaining a genuine interest in improving patient satisfaction, you'll ensure that you get enough actionable feedback to drive positive changes at your practice or hospital.

Automate patient feedback collection with InsiderCX

InsiderCX is at the forefront of transforming how healthcare providers collect and interpret patient feedback. Traditional methods often fall short in providing timely insights.

Our mobile integration ensures clinics can connect with patients on-the-go, helping you get more feedback quicker with less administration. You streamline and automate the entire feedback management process, from questionnaire creation to data analysis and reporting. We can even direct satisfied patients to post positive reviews, boosting your online reputation.

Ultimately, InsiderCX isn't just a tool — it's your ally in enhancing private healthcare quality, driving patient satisfaction, and boosting clinic revenues.

InsiderCX Editorial Team
This article was researched, written, polished, and published by the InsiderCX editorial team.

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