Quality Control

The Art of Collecting Actionable Patient Feedback

Learn how to collect patient feedback and get useful insights to improve the patient experience at your clinic or hospital.
October 12, 2023
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.

Curious about harnessing this power? Keep reading to learn not only how to collect patient feedback, but also how to get useful insights you can use to make clinic-wide improvements.

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 approachability of the staff and the ambiance of the facility.

It serves as a valuable tool for healthcare providers to understand the patient's perspective, gauge their satisfaction levels, and identify areas that need to be improved.

Based on our internal data, the optimal time to solicit patient feedback is 24 to 48 hours after their visit.  This period is crucial: the patient's experience is still fresh in their mind, allowing for a more accurate and detailed recollection.

Waiting too long might result in faded memories or diluted impressions, whereas asking too soon might not give patients enough time to reflect on their entire experience. All things considered, the post-visit window often provides the most genuine feedback.

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.

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.

The primary advantage of mobile surveys is their immediacy, often leading to higher response rates. Patients can quickly fill them out while their experience is still fresh, providing detailed and accurate insights.

However, these surveys can’t be too long — patients might abandon them midway, leading to incomplete 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

The advantage here is the depth of feedback you can obtain. The challenge? Ensuring patients are actually aware of these forms and are motivated enough to visit the website and fill them out.

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.

The advantage of email surveys is that they can be saved and filled out later, giving patients time to reflect. However, there's a risk of these emails getting lost in crowded inboxes or being marked as spam.

Phone calls

Phone calls offer a personal touch. By having a real conversation, healthcare providers can delve deeper into a patient's experience, asking follow-up questions and clarifying doubts. This method can yield rich, qualitative feedback.

The calls must not be intrusive, and should be scheduled at a convenient time for the patient. The challenge is that unsolicited calls can be perceived as invasive, and there's the risk of catching patients at inopportune moments, such as during work hours, family time, or other personal commitments.

In contrast to digital feedback which can be easily stored and analyzed, phone calls require meticulous documentation and categorization. This can be time-consuming and requires additional resources to transcribe and analyze.

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.

The challenge lies in processing and analyzing these manual inputs. One of the primary concerns is the ease with which they can be misplaced or lost. Furthermore, gathering and collating these surveys is time-consuming, requiring dedicated personnel to ensure that no feedback slips through the cracks.

There's also the issue of legibility: handwritten feedback can be challenging to decipher, especially if the respondent has rushed or unclear handwriting. So, while paper surveys are tangible and immediate, they come with logistical challenges and potential inefficiencies.

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

They combine the immediacy of paper surveys in a digital form, ensuring quick processing. A potential problem is that high-quality, reliable kiosks can be costly, and the installation might necessitate additional infrastructure changes or enhancements within the clinic.

Maintenance is another crucial aspect. In order for them to deliver the required data, they must be user-friendly and regularly maintained to avoid technical glitches. 

While kiosks can be used for other things besides collecting feedback, they demand careful consideration of the associated costs and the effort required for their upkeep and optimization.

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.

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:

  • Well-structured questionnaires: Crafting a well-thought-out questionnaire is the foundation of insightful feedback. Ensure your questions are clear and concise, and lead to specific answers. 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.
  • 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.
  • Anonymous feedback channels: 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.
  • Up-to-date collection process: As your clinic evolves, so should your feedback mechanisms. Regularly review and update your questionnaires and feedback methods to ensure they remain relevant to the current patient experience.
  • Act and communicate: Once you've collected feedback, it's essential to act upon it. Implement changes based on the insights gathered and 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 methods and maintaining a genuine interest in improving patient satisfaction, you'll ensure that the feedback you gather is not only abundant but also actionable, driving positive changes at your practice or hospital.

Why should clinics actively collect patient feedback?

A profound understanding of the patient perspective helps clinics tailor their services, ensuring they not only meet but exceed patient expectations. 

But what are the immediate, tangible benefits of gathering patient feedback?

  • Improved patient care: Detailed feedback can shed light on specific areas where medical care might be lacking or can be enhanced. Addressing these areas ensures that every patient receives the best possible care.
  • Higher patient satisfaction: Satisfaction isn't just about medical outcomes — it's about the entire patient journey. Feedback helps clinics refine every touchpoint, from reception to post-visit follow-ups.
  • Fewer operational inefficiencies: Operational hitches can delay appointments, lead to longer waiting times, or result in administrative errors. Feedback can pinpoint these areas, leading to smoother, more efficient operations.
  • Better regulatory compliance: Regular feedback ensures that clinics are not only meeting but surpassing regulatory standards, ensuring they are always in line with industry best practices.
  • A strong, patient-centric culture: Feedback fosters a deeper understanding of patient needs, ensuring every staff member can empathize and act accordingly. Open feedback channels ensure that patients feel heard, bridging any communication gaps and fostering trust. Instead of reacting to issues, feedback-driven insights allow staff to be proactive — anticipating and addressing patient needs in advance.

There’s another distinct benefit of patient feedback, one which isn't just about improving care — it's a goldmine for marketing. Once clinics understand patient needs and concerns, they can tailor their marketing strategies, focusing on issues and concerns that resonate with potential patients and boost acquisition efforts.

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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