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Real-Time Patient Satisfaction Surveys Give Providers A Chance To Offer A Much Better Patient Experience

Over the years, studies have shown that one of the key indicators of quality healthcare is positive patient perception of his or her experience.

However, typical methods of calculating patient satisfaction, such as email questionnaires, surveys sent via mail, etc, have become archaic and even inefficient in determining and improving the patient experience.


A big complaint I used to hear from my staff is that they didn't get patient feedback in a timely fashion, and by the time they got it, the patient is already gone,” says Dr. Marisha A. Burden, chief of hospital medicine at Denver Health Medical Center. “Too often in medicine, we give very delayed feedback—and when you give only a monthly or quarterly report, it's hard to change things quickly.

And changing things quickly is paramount in fostering a positive patient experience. It also protects a medical facility’s reputation, and saves it from potential financial penalties. Press Ganey, the nation’s top patient satisfaction survey firm, estimates that U.S. hospitals have $500,000 to $850,000 directly tied to their healthcare quality and patient satisfaction, at risk each year.

Denver Health Medical Center recently tested a new method for collecting patient feedback: real time patient surveys. The verbal survey, conducted during a patient’s visit, was condensed to just three questions that rated their doctors on listening, explaining, and being helpful.

Not only does this method guarantee feedback from every single patient, but said feedback is likely more genuine and organic, since the patient is acknowledging their experience in the moment. Real-time satisfaction surveys also provide data immediately, and in some cases, allows for on-the spot improvements before the patient has even left the premises.

Too often in medicine, we give very delayed feedback—and when you give only a monthly or quarterly report, it's hard to change things quickly.

Denver Health Medical Center published a study in the Journal of Hospital Medicine detailing the effects of implementing the real-time patient surveys. The hospital saw substantial improvements in its percentile rankings between control and intervention groups for four Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) measures, the data used by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to allot payment rewards or penalties to hospitals based on patient experience surveys.  

Matthew Bates, managing director at Huron Consulting Group, explains, “The data are clear that when we're able to resolve an issue quickly rather than letting it fester, we're providing a much better experience for the patient and family. In fact, some studies that indicate when we identify and correct an issue in real time, we can end up better off than if we didn't have an issue at all.

The real-time method of calculating patient satisfaction is catching on quickly, not just in healthcare but in any field where customer experience is vitally important to a company’s success. It is a simple yet novel, and by all means personable approach to addressing patient issues and company improvements head-on.

Aptly named, Enclothed Cognition is the official Medelita blog for medical professionals interested in topics relevant to a discerning and inquisitive audience. Medelita was founded by a licensed clinician who felt strongly about the connection between focus, poise and appearance.