In a whitepaper published by HBR on “Improving the Patient Experience” studies suggest that a good patient experience can lead to better patient outcomes. The paper argues that patients form an opinion about every interaction at the hospital, right from booking an appointment to the comfort provided at the healthcare facility.

And a good patient experience is more likely to make them trust the medical advice received, and eventually follow it. This is perhaps the most compelling reason for healthcare organizations to work hard and improve the patient experience.

And for improving the patient experience, decision-makers require real insights which they can derive from a well-designed patient satisfaction survey.

Key Factors For Designing Effective In-Patient Satisfaction Surveys:

1. Be Clear on What You Want to Know

Different aspects may be focused on by top management to improvise upon. For example, certain hospitals know they have a world-class infrastructure. So, they need not add a lot of questions to solicit feedback on this aspect.

However, they might want to know how well the patient perceives their “empathy quotient”, for which the patient satisfaction survey could be designed accordingly. 

2. Elements of the Patient Satisfaction Survey:

While devising the in-patient satisfaction survey feedback form, it might be useful to consider two approaches: 

Method 1: Department-wise, which is what most Indian hospitals typically do or 

Method 2: You could design it with the focus on attributes of patient experience like “respect”, patient privacy, etc. which in my opinion would be futuristic.

Patient Feedback

Parameters that could be included in the questionnaire on a 3-point or 5-point Likert scale include:

  • Ease of admission & discharge process
  • Friendliness and courtesy of the staff 
  • Information about hospital charges 

Doctor Care

  • Care and attentiveness during their interactions 
  • Explanation by a doctor about illness, treatment, and medicines 

Dietary Services 

  • The quality and taste of food 
  • Whether the food was served and cleared on time 

Nursing Staff 

  • Adequate information is given about a procedure before starting the process 
  • Attitude and behavior 
  • Explanation about the process of treatment and progress 
  • Medications / treatment in time 


  • Cleanliness maintained in the wards 
  • Whether cleaning requests were attended on time

Similar questions for other hospital departments can be formulated with a final question on the overall service. 

Alternatively, in the second approach, you can focus on understanding how the patient was made to feel throughout his/ her course of interaction with the hospital.

  • Did you feel that your privacy and confidentiality requirements were adequately addressed by the staff?
  • Were you treated with respect and courtesy?
  • Were you provided with an explanation of your diagnosis and the various treatment modalities that are available?
  • Was there consent taken from you prior to initiation of medical procedure/ treatment?
  • Did you feel confident about the staff’s skill set and prowess while receiving treatment?
  • Was our staff empathetic and sensitive to your requirements?
  • Were you satisfied with the response time to your queries/ requirements?
  • Were you aware of whom you could connect with in case of any requirements during your hospital stay?
  • Could you kindly mention any specific experience during your hospital stay that you truly liked?
  • Was there any specific service you think we need to improve on?
  • Would you recommend our services to your friends and family?

The number of questions: Try to keep it to less than 20.

Type of Questions: The majority of questions can be close-ended with a few open-ended questions to make it easy for patients to fill the form.

The phrasing of Questions: Keep them simple and easy to understand. Offer them in multiple languages.

Methodology of Soliciting Patient Feedback: In an inpatient setting though, a lot of Indian corporate hospitals continue to rely on patient relationship executives or nurses for data collection. It would be highly beneficial to take this task off the shoulders of the nursing staff. 

To Improve the Quality of Patient Feedback: In large hospitals where there are many discharges/ day, it would be useful for the PRE (patient relationship executive) staff to use a dipstick to solicit interview-based patient feedback.

This method, if used well, can enable us to solicit actionable that are not directly mentioned in the form but have a deep impact in terms of the patient experience. 

A case in point –  while interning at a major corporate hospital in the Patient Relationship team,  I remember receiving deep insights during one-on-one patient interactions. Interestingly, these insights did not fit the bill in terms of feedback form but were critical. These included things like:

  • Patients wasting time to reach the hospital due to lack of adequate signages to the hospital from the main road
  • The hospital gown design being uncomfortable
  • A junior nurse being scolded by the senior in front of patients, which reduced staff credibility

To Increase the Quantity of Patient Feedback: It would be useful to provide the patient with the option of filling in the patient satisfaction survey through a tablet PC provided in their room before discharge.

You can also use other digital channels such as Whatsapp, SMS, email, or QR code to collect feedback. In a nutshell, leveraging technology for making feedback collection omnichannel can help in improving both the quality and quantity of patient feedback.

To conclude, designing effective patient satisfaction surveys is a continuous process and should be ever-evolving with the only constant being “intent to improve”.

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Written By | Pooja George