Quality Control

How to Write a Patient Satisfaction Survey and Which Questions to Include

Learn the most effective patient satisfaction survey questions, and how to write and design a patient survey that gets completed and provides valuable insights.
March 6, 2024
7 min

Patient satisfaction surveys can offer deep insights into patient experiences and expectations. Analyzing that data helps clinics identify strengths and areas for improvement, ensuring that patient care continually evolves to meet and exceed the needs of their patients.

In this article, we explore what to measure, which questions to include, and how to write and design an effective patient satisfaction survey.

How does one write a patient satisfaction survey?

Creating a patient satisfaction survey starts with being clear about what you're trying to measure. 

In general, you can take two approaches:

  1. Run surveys to measure overall patient satisfaction at your clinic
  2. Measure satisfaction with a specific service/procedure (i.e. satisfaction with post-surgery follow up care) 

The first approach is good for measuring NPS and general satisfaction, while the second approach is how you get insightful feedback for improvements.

We will give you a list of common questions and design tips later in the article.

Areas to focus on while evaluating patient satisfaction and experience

Most of the healthcare practices we work with already have a CRM system. Consequently, the patient satisfaction surveys we help them design and send usually do not include questions about demographics.

However, if you do not have access to such data (or want to keep the survey anonymous), you’ll probably want to include some demographics-related questions at the beginning or the end of your survey. 

With that context, let’s see the broad areas which most clinics will want to cover in their patient satisfaction surveys:

  • Experience with care: Explore how patients interact with healthcare staff, including the attentiveness, communication skills, and compassion shown by providers.
  • Access and convenience: Assess the ease of scheduling appointments, waiting times, the accessibility of the facility, and the convenience of office hours.
  • Quality of care: Investigate the effectiveness of treatments, the clarity of information provided about care and procedures, and the follow-up process.
  • Communication: Evaluate how well you communicate with patients, including the clarity of explanations regarding diagnoses, treatments, and any follow-up care instructions.
  • Facility environment: Look at the cleanliness, safety, and overall comfort of the healthcare facility, including waiting areas and patient rooms.
  • Patient outcomes: Consider patients' perspectives on their health improvements, management of chronic conditions, and overall satisfaction with the outcomes of their care.

In most cases, you will want to have a mix of closed and open-ended questions in order to capture feedback in the proper context. Closed questions yield quantitative data that's easy to analyze, while open-ended questions offer qualitative insights into patient sentiments and experiences. 

This balanced approach enables providers to quantify satisfaction levels and understand the reasons behind them, leading to more nuanced improvements in patient care.

Common patient satisfaction survey questions

Here is the list of seven best performing questions from our general satisfaction surveys. By ‘best performing’ we mean the questions that generate the most valuable insights: 

1. On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend [ClinicName] to a friend or acquaintance?

A standard question, used to measure the NPS score and assign a numeric value to patient satisfaction.

2. The doctor provided all the information in an easily understandable manner. [on a 1-5 scale]

There can be a gap between what the doctors say and what the patient understands. That’s primarily because the doctors often use medical terms and lingo, and the patients are usually too afraid to ask for further explanation. 

This question is designed to check if your patients ever run into those problems.

3. The staff treated me with courtesy and respect at all times. [on a 1-5 scale]

The way people treat us has a huge impact on our experience with a specific service, especially in a sensitive area like healthcare. If you want good patient reviews and word-of-mouth, it’s crucial to identify and fix any quality gaps in this area.

4. Why did you decide to choose [ClinicName]? [open ended question]

This question provides the clinic with better insights into why patients choose their clinic specifically. It can identify strengths you can use to improve your marketing messaging.

5. What is the most important factor when choosing a health care provider? [Open ended or multiple-choice question]

Different patients have different priorities. Instead of guessing, the clinics should be asking that directly.  

6. If needed, would you visit [ClinicName] again? [Yes/No question]

Positive intentions around repeated visits are a sign of patient loyalty. However, this question has a deeper purpose. 

One of the main features of our patient experience platform is the ability to build and send patient surveys via mobile channels. 

If a patient answers with a ‘no,’ it means they had a negative experience. In this case, our platform sends out an instant alert, enabling healthcare providers to reach out and try to solve the problem before it's too late.

7. Did we meet your expectations? [on a 1-5 scale] or [open ended question]

Sometimes, a clinic might do a decent job overall, but the patient still leaves dissatisfied as their expectations have been different and/or unrealistic. This question aims to catch the mismatch between what the patient expected and what actually happened.

Naturally, the exact questions you should use will vary depending on what you want to measure.

InsiderCX users have seen most success creating patient satisfaction surveys that have 14 to 16 questions and take around 2 minutes to complete. The average completion rate sits at an impressive 85%.

Tips for creating effective patient satisfaction surveys

Creating patient satisfaction surveys requires some attention to detail and a clear idea of what you want to measure. Here are some tips for creating surveys that will yield valuable, actionable insights. 

Make sure the survey is well-designed

A survey that's a breeze to complete is a survey that gets completed. Avoid lengthy questionnaires; instead, create concise surveys that zero in on the most critical aspects of the patient experience.

Furthermore, design your surveys with the user in mind: clear, simple, and straightforward. This will get you higher response rates and more reliable data, making your feedback loop both efficient and effective.

Patient satisfaction survey example.

Here are some design tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose a simple font type, size, and colors to ensure the survey is easily readable by all patient demographics. Test how it looks on different mobile devices.
  • If it is a longer survey, break it down into different sections. If there are multiple pages, patients should be able to easily track their progress on the screen and go back to previous questions.
  • The “Next” / “Submit” buttons should be easy to spot, and the latter should be followed by a simple success message.
  • If possible, include branding in your design, like brand colors and company logo. This communicates that the survey comes from a trusted source. 

When including demographic questions, consider adding them at the end of your survey. It keeps the focus squarely on the patient experience, with the added bonus of providing rich contextual data for subsequent analyses.

Use simple and direct language

Simple and direct language eliminates confusion and ensures that patients can provide accurate feedback. Whenever possible, avoid using complex medical terminology or convoluted phrasing. 

For instance:

  • THE WRONG WAY: "How would you rate your satisfaction with the communicative approach provided by your healthcare provider?"
  • THE RIGHT WAY: "How satisfied were you with the way your doctor explained things to you?"

Balance question types

Closed-ended questions are essential for gathering quantifiable data that can be easily analyzed. These questions should be clear and offer specific response options. Examples include:

  • "On a scale of 1 to 5, how would you rate the cleanliness of our facility?"
  • "Did you receive your test results in a timely manner? (Yes/No)"

On the other hand, open-ended questions provide deeper insights into patient experiences and perceptions. These questions should encourage detailed responses:

  • "What did you like most about your visit today?"
  • "Please describe any suggestions you have for improving our waiting room area."

Avoid leading and biased questions

Leading and biased questions can skew results and give an inaccurate picture of patient satisfaction. 

These are the questions that suggest a particular answer or contain assumptions:

  • "How excellent was the care you received today?" (implies care was excellent)
  • "Many patients find our clinic's location convenient. Do you agree?" (suggests a positive response)

To get an objective response, your questions have to be neutral.

Ensure question relevance

Tailoring questions to specific items — like process, doctor or service — ensures the patient feedback is relevant and actionable. For example, for patients who just had surgery, you could ask:  "How would you rate the post-operative care you received?"

While you’re at it, avoid medical jargon to ensure that all patients understand your questions, regardless of their medical knowledge. For example:

  • THE WRONG WAY: "Were you satisfied with the efficacy of the analgesic we prescribed?”
  • THE RIGHT WAY: "Were you satisfied with the pain relief medication provided?"

Include questions that cover key aspects of care like treatment effectiveness, staff behavior, and facility conditions, e.g. "How would you rate the professionalism of the staff during your visit?"

Use consistent scales

Using consistent scales throughout the survey maintains clarity. Common rating scales include:

  • 5-point and 10-point scales for quantifying satisfaction
  • Likert scales for measuring agreement or disagreement
  • visual analog scales for assessing intensity of feelings
Subjective rating scale types visualized.
Subjective rating scale types. Source: ResearchGate

Consistency in scale types also helps in accurate data analysis and future comparison of patient responses across different questions and surveys.

Automate patient surveys with InsiderCX

InsiderCX enables clinics to deploy patient satisfaction surveys at scale. It comes with a suite of powerful features for survey automation, including:

  • White labeled, customizable satisfaction surveys templates
  • Automatic, mobile surveys sent to patients via SMS, WhatsApp, or Viber
  • Access to experts that will help you craft engaging surveys (all of our clients have a response rate of over 15%)
  • Real-time analytics with the ability to benchmark satisfaction by staff, service, specialty, or location 
  • Seamless integration with EHR and other systems you might be using. 

The result is a seamless, integrated feedback loop that helps you track satisfaction and catch positive and negative trends in overall care quality.

Book a demo today to get a free pilot project and discover firsthand how we can automate quality control at your clinic.

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

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