Patient feedback is one of the most valuable mechanisms there is for gaining insight into practice performance and quality of patient care. It can often be difficult to determine when the best time is to collect patient feedback. Timing is important, as asking for feedback at different points in the patient journey can drastically change the type of feedback you receive. There are several different factors which determine the best time to collect patient feedback. We’ve outlined below some of the key considerations to help you determine the best approach for you and your practice:
The type of medical procedure
It’s important to take into consideration the type of procedure or treatment a patient has undergone. For example, if a patient has a cosmetic procedure done, it will take some time for them to recover in order to make a judgement about the quality of the results. There may, however, be cases where it makes sense to ask for two levels of feedback. The first being initial questions following a treatment or procedure, which may focus on quality of care, while the second may be around how happy the patient is with the results of the procedure.
The timing of your request can affect what people choose to review. Immediate feedback from patients, for example, tends to focus on subjective feelings about the experience, things like how informative or friendly the practitioner is. While feedback taken later tends to focus on the end result of the experience.
It’s also important to consider if the patient has a chronic condition. If they have a long term need for medical support that requires ongoing treatment, you will need to take into account if or when it is appropriate to ask for feedback on their treatment.
The type of question
It’s also important to consider the format of the questions being asked. Multiple choice questions may be more appropriate for quick, top-line feedback collected from patients at the point of discharge. While an open-ended query may be more appropriate when following up with patients after recovery. Open-ended questions also help patients feel that they’ve had the opportunity to provide full and honest feedback for their experience.
The insight you can get from such a seemingly simple question can be very revealing. In fact, providing the opportunity for open-ended questions can help to reveal important factors which may be impacting patients’ experiences along with their clinical outcomes.
Complexities arise when the scope of the patient experience is wide
A patient may have experienced several levels of care, perhaps also needing transitional care and aftercare. One question, or one set of questions, may not necessarily reveal everything you want to know about their end-to-end experience and how they feel about the care and services they received.
When a survey is an imposition
Patient surveys are important to your business, and ultimately to the level of service you offer your patients. However, there are times when a survey may be too overwhelming for a patient who is facing a stressful, frightening illness. When researchers in England asked people with cancer and their clinicians about the best time to take a survey, patients said that they didn’t like being approached early in the care process, close to diagnosis, when planning treatment or before surgery.
Clinicians felt similar to patients, recommending being sensitive to people’s feelings and fears. But they wanted to initiate the surveys earlier than patients wanted to answer questions, highlighting a distinct disconnect in the feedback process. It’s important to put the patients first, otherwise the feedback that you get may not reflect the positive experience you were hoping for.
Surveying the same patients several times at sensible intervals
You can always choose to survey patients at several points to track changes, and it’s a sensible way to proceed when your patients have long-term medical conditions and ongoing contact with health services. But you’ll need to be sensitive to their needs and feelings, and it makes sense to ask them beforehand whether it’s OK to survey them at regular intervals.
The Doctify platform – easy-to-collect real time feedback
These days, it’s a simple matter to collect real time patient feedback. Doctify delivers a convenient personalised review app that you can use while at the clinic or at the point of discharge. This allows a simple and easy method for collecting all of your patient feedback data, with plenty of empirically relevant insight stored in one location. You can even ask for feedback at a later date using Doctify’s email link review button, allowing you to easily follow up with patients who may need time to recover.
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