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What to Include on a Patient Satisfaction Survey

With the move towards value-based healthcare, patient feedback is more important than ever especially for providers who need a competitive edge. Patient satisfaction forms digital surveys can help your practice understand the care you deliver from your patients’ perspectives, identify challenges and bottlenecks and make changes that will help you attract and retain more patients and drive revenue.

Related: What Makes People Like and Dislike Their Doctors?

Before you create a patient satisfaction survey however, there are several things you’ll need to think about so you’ll get the data you need in a timely and cost-efficient manner.

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Tip for Creating A Patient Satisfaction Survey

1. Keep it short

Although you want to get as much data as possible, if your patients are willing to provide feedback you must be cognizant of their time and not overwhelm them with too many questions. Aim for a patient satisfaction survey that can be answered within 3 minutes or less.

2. Decide on the design

Instead of asking how satisfied your patients are on a scale of 1 to 10 for example, write open-ended questions about appointments and scheduling, wait times, bedside manner and the patient portal. Also, decide if you’ll survey patients about their overall experience with your practice or after an episode of care.

3. Pay attention to the format

Including multiple choice questions or those with a rating scale of 1 to 5 are quick and can help you easily analyze the data and identify trends among your patient population. For some questions, however, you’ll want more details so asking for 1 to 2 sentence answers would be appropriate. Instead of yes or no answers, include several options such as “agree,” “somewhat agree,” etc. and always include a comments section at the end.

4. Ask for real-time feedback

When asking for feedback, studies show real-time feedback can pay off. According to a 2016 study in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, hospitals that implemented a real-time feedback system saw a significant increase in doctor and overall hospital rankings.

5. Understand the limitations

Just like a research study, it’s important to understand the limitations of your surveying. If you were running late that day because of an emergency for example, it could skew negatively.

6. Decide on distribution channels

Think about your goals, time, budget and patient demographics to decide whether you’ll mail or provide a patient feedback form in the office, send an online survey, conduct telephone surveys or use a mix of all channels.

Patient Feedback: What Should You Ask?

Here are some questions to get you started.


  1. Were you able to make an appointment that was convenient for you?
  2. Were you satisfied with the availability of the physician?
  3. Did you receive an appointment reminder?
  4. Were your insurance coverage and payment options clearly explained?
  5. If you used the patient portal prior to your appointment, was it easy to use?

Waiting time

  1. Were you taken into the exam room in a timely manner?
  2. Did the physician see you in a timely manner?

Office staff

  1. Was the front office staff courteous, warm and friendly?
  2. If you had questions, were you satisfied with the answers they provided?
  3. If you have called with an urgent matter, does the office staff respond in a timely manner?

Physicians and medical staff

  1. What was the reason for your visit today?
  2. Did the doctor and/or medical staff explain things clearly?
  3. Did the doctor and/or medical staff use medical terminology you didn’t understand?
  4. Was the doctor and/or medical staff warm, friendly and polite?
  5. Did the doctor and/or medical staff listen carefully?
  6. Did the doctor and/or medical staff answer all of your questions?
  7. Did the doctor and/or medical staff give you specific instructions for how to handle your specific health condition or illness?
  8. Did the doctor and/or medical staff involve you in decisions about your treatment?
  9. Did the doctor and/or medical staff provide or arrange treatment for you?
  10. Do you believe the doctor is trustworthy?
  11. Would you be happy to see this doctor again?
  12. How likely are you to recommend this physician to family and friends?
  13. Was it easy to speak directly to your doctor during office hours?
  14. Was it easy to speak to your doctor or an associate when the office is closed (nights and weekends)?

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