If you’ve been following this blog recently, you may have seen our posts about using surveys to give patients better healthcare experiences. The central theme is that surveys are beneficial because they allow healthcare teams to capture information that can be used to tailor care and give patients the best possible healthcare experiences. Although surveys can be extremely valuable, they are only useful if providers follow up with appropriate actions based on patient feedback. In other words, the best way to fail at surveys is to skip the follow-up.
As pointed out in previous posts, there are several different kinds of surveys healthcare teams can use to their advantage. Patient satisfaction surveys are most common, but health risk assessments, post-discharge survey check-ins, remote health monitoring surveys, gaps in care surveys and medication adherence surveys are all just as valuable. With any of these surveys, healthcare teams can leverage the technology they use for their appointment reminders to deliver survey invitations and instructions to patients. Many patients are eager to participate in surveys—nearly nine in ten Americans (86%) say they would be likely to take a survey from a healthcare professional or organization.
With proper preparation and communication, it should be easy to gather survey responses. Unfortunately, the stumbling point for healthcare teams is usually the survey follow-up.
Following up with patients is the whole point of using surveys. For example, think about medication adherence surveys. Healthcare teams may ask patients to complete medication adherence surveys to support chronic disease management or to ensure patients who were hospitalized have a smooth recovery. The point of doing this is to identify when and why patients are not taking medications as prescribed, and to work out a resolution.
Medication surveys can ask questions like:
- Have you picked up your prescription?
- Do you have questions about your dosage or when to take your medication?
- Have you missed any doses of your medication?
- Are you experiencing any medication side effects that would cause you to stop taking your medication?
Survey responses that indicate patients are not taking their medications, have questions or are experiencing side effects should trigger a response from their healthcare team. If a patient has not filled their prescription, staff can reach out and see if the patient forgot, couldn’t afford the cost of the medication, did not have transportation to the pharmacy or faced some other challenge. Once the problem is identified, an appropriate solution can be put into place. A cheaper generic drug may be prescribed if cost is an issue. A pharmacy may offer delivery if a patient is unable to pick up his prescription. The point is, it wouldn’t make sense to ask patients about their problems and then not do anything to address issues when they are identified. Skipping follow-up defeats the purpose of implementing surveys.
Fifty-eight percent of patients say it is important that they know their healthcare providers care about them. Following up in response to surveys shows patients that their providers are engaged and care about their health. Follow-up also leads to better outcomes. One study found that patients whose healthcare providers collaborated with pharmacists and intervened with educational information and medication refill reminder calls were more medication adherent 12 months after being discharged from the hospital than patients who had not received similar follow-up (89% vs. 74%).
Thirty-four percent of Americans say they would be more motivated to complete an online survey or check-in from a healthcare provider if a healthcare professional were to follow up immediately. Routine follow-up not only converts survey data into actions that improve care, but it also increases survey participation so more patients benefit from surveys. To learn more about the various types of healthcare surveys organizations can use and the follow-up that drives better patient experiences, download CXOs Are Expanding the Use of Surveys to Transform the Patient Experience.