Digital Patient Feedback

7 DIGITAL CHANNELS FOR COLLECTING PATIENT FEEDBACK EXPLAINED​

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Written By | Gayatri Vernekar

According to a 2018 study, 93% of patients expect hospitals to use digital tools when interacting with them. The patient satisfaction survey process is a key interaction between hospitals and patients. 

Yet, many hospitals do not make optimum use of digital means for collecting patient feedback, resulting in challenges such as:

  • Low patient engagement
  • Insufficient distribution of surveys
  • Low responses due to language barriers among participants
  • Inability to customize survey length
  • Low response rates
  • Unreliable information

Today, hospitals can conduct patient satisfaction surveys through various means. Technology has made it easy to distribute patient satisfaction surveys and maximize responses. For this reason, it is essential to pick the right channel that best works for your audience.

Digital Feedback Collection Channels: Pros and Cons

Below are the 7 main digital channels for patient satisfaction surveys and the pros and cons of each:

7 digital channels

1. SMS

SMS surveys are an instant way to get valuable feedback. 

Pros

  • The open rate of SMS is above 90% 
  • Healthcare providers can send SMS surveys to any mobile device irrespective of the model of the phone
  • Do not require downloading any particular app like an instant messaging app or an Email app

Cons

  • Despite having a high open-rate, our analysis shows that the response rate of surveys on SMS is lesser than 5% depending on the survey length
  • SMS involves extra costs
  • Sharing surveys on hectic days or odd times can affect the number of responses
  • For surveys where the user has to send a response back, there are higher chances of human error
  • Longer surveys are not possible due to character count restrictions. Healthcare providers can overcome this limitation by including web links to detailed forms within SMSs

2. Email

Email surveys can be distributed by embedding survey links within emails. 

Pros

  • The average email open rate is nearly 22% for the health sector, which is in line with other industries
  • With an email survey, patients can preview the contact name and the intention of the survey through the subject line 
  • Email surveys are cost-effective than SMS surveys
  • Allow sending the surveys at convenient days (e.g. days other than Mondays) and times (between 9 AM to 5 PM)
  • Email surveys can be sent automatically at prescheduled timings
  • No character count restrictions allow personalizing communication to get higher responses

Cons

  • Patients may not respond to all the emails they open
  • People without internet access cannot take email surveys
  • Email surveys make it hard to reach people who do not regularly use email 
  • Survey participation can drop if the email text is too long

3. Website

Hospitals can collect meaningful patient feedback by embedding survey links to their website. 

Pros

  • Hospitals can introduce a section on their website to leave patient feedback
  • Patients can proactively leave feedback even without prompting

Cons

  • Response rates may be low as you are dependent on the user to visit the website
  • The hospital needs to have a website. Even if it has a website, it will require additional effort to integrate the survey on its website

4. WhatsApp

WhatsApp is undoubtedly a major medium of communication for many people. Hence, a patient satisfaction survey conducted via WhatApp can help drive engagement. 

  Pros

  • WhatsApp can support inline replies i.e you can ask patients about their experience and patients can reply immediately. This ensures an improved response rate.
  • Patients can identify the sender and not mistake it for a spam
  • Likely to get a higher response rate as people use WhatsApp more than other channels

Cons

  • Surveys on WhatsApp can be three times more expensive than normal SMS
  • Surveys can be more intrusive than other channels as it is a personal chat app
  • Difficulty reaching participants who do not use WhatsApp 
  • Cannot reach people with no internet access

5. IVR (Interactive Voice Response)

IVR surveys are automated call surveys with recorded messages. These surveys allow patients to respond to the questions by pressing the phone keys. For example, they can press 1 if they are happy or 2 if they are unhappy with a hospital’s service. 

An added advantage is,  with IVR surveys patients can also provide their feedback through voice telephone input. This enables patients to leave detailed feedback. Furthermore, all these answers provided by the patients can be recorded for later analysis.

Pros

  • Suitable when patient feedback is critical, but the response rate is low
  • Do not require internet
  • Easy for the non-tech savvy population, such as the elderly
  • Allows unhappy patients to explain their grievance in detail

Cons

  • Not suitable for longer surveys
  • Lower response rate 

6. On-Premise Tablet Devices

With on-premise, tab-based surveys, the hospital administration can set up tablet PCs at various touchpoints to collect feedback. 

Pros

  • Convenient compared to paper-based forms
  • Potential to generate higher response rates 
  • Allow real-time reporting of experiences

Cons

  • Tablets need some initial investment
  • Dependent on network connectivity
  • Require maintenance of the device similar to mobile phones, such as charging

7. QR Codes

QR codes are an efficient way to get patient feedback with minimum resources. QR codes can be printed on medical bills or put up in the hospital reception area. 

Scanning the QR code directs the respondent to the survey page. The patient can fill it and submit the responses. 

Tip: Placement of the QR code should be easily accessible to get feedback right on the spot.  

Pros

  • Low investment method
  • Can be scanned by patients anytime
  • Provide quick access to the survey when the experience is fresh
  • Since the feedback is within the facility, the quality of responses and the completion rate can be high

 Cons

  • Lack of familiarity with the QR code among people
  • Dependability on a smartphone for a QR code reader

Benefits of Choosing the Right Channel for Collecting Patient Feedback

The right feedback collection channel can provide many benefits to hospitals, as follows. 

Increase Patient Engagement 

Digital feedback channels methods give patients the freedom to complete the survey at their convenience. Some of these methods, such as SMS or Whatsapp, allow patients to complete the feedback even after leaving the facility. 

Further, with digital channels, you can conduct surveys in multiple languages depending on your target audience.

Digital Feedback Channels can be Cost-Effective

With traditional surveys, hospitals spend a considerable amount of money on paper forms. Also, collecting feedback, organizing those forms, and analyzing needs more human resources. But digital channels are cost-effective in terms of collecting and analyzing patient feedback.  

Staff’s time gets freed up from collecting patient feedback and can be used for other productive purposes.

Improve Online Reputation

Digital channels help in identifying negative feedback quickly and allow addressing the patient’s concerns in real-time. There’s no risk of missing out on any feedback or human delays in processing feedback. This helps hospitals minimize negative online reviews and improve their overall review ratings. A strong online identity can help hospitals bring in new patients.

Facilitate Informed Decision Making

A paper-based patient satisfaction survey does not provide a clear picture of hospital performance. But, feedback collected through digital channels provides much more actionable insights. Hospitals can use this feedback to make informed business decisions.

 

Conclusion: 

The use of digital channels for conducting patient satisfaction surveys can help hospitals get faster and more accurate feedback. These channels also boost patient engagement as they give patients multiple options to give feedback. 

Best Surveys is an omnichannel patient feedback solution for conducting patient satisfaction surveys. Several hospitals have benefited from Best Surveys feedback collection flexibility and intelligent analytics. Click here to know more.

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