The satisfaction of your clients has never been more important. In fact, according to a HIMSS survey, over 70% of health practitioners consider “engagement, satisfaction and quality of care” to be amongst the most important focal areas for the next while. And, if you consider client satisfaction to be a core component of the client experience, it’s worth noting that 92% of clients feel that providers should be focused on enriching the client experience.
Yet, despite all this, the patient experience is something that is often neglected when you study physical therapy. But good quality client care can’t be separated out from the concept of client satisfaction. Unfortunately, just because your clients aren’t complaining about their treatment or your services, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are satisfied. And that’s where a physical therapy patient satisfaction survey can make all the difference.
The Top 8 Reasons to Implement Patient Satisfaction Surveys
1. They Communicate that You Care About Your Clients
Saying you care won’t have the same impact on your clients as showing that you care. Patient satisfaction surveys give your patients the opportunity to be heard, and it communicates that you care about them and their needs, not just getting the job done.
2. They Improve Your Referral Rate (Yes, Really!)
Referrals are a big part of most physical therapy practices so make sure that when your clients are talking to their family and friends about their experience with your practice, they only have good things to say. Showing that you care about their opinion improves the connection between client and provider, makes them more likely to continue with your services, and more likely to recommend your practice to others. And the stats show that, on average, clients will tell eleven people about your business if they have had a good experience.
3. They Make You Aware of Blind Spots
Just because you have always done things the same way, does not mean that there are not things that could be improved upon. Maybe you’ve let the waiting room experience slide and clients aren’t being greeted warmly and made to feel welcome. Or it could be that you last decorated over ten years ago, and your rooms are well overdue for a refresh. It might even be that there is something in the way that you treat clients that is off-putting. Your clients are unlikely to give you this feedback if you don’t ask for it. They might not even have thought about what they don’t like or been able to verbalise their issues or concerns, but the framework of a physical therapy patient satisfaction survey can help.
4. They Allow You to Make Improvements to Your Practice
If you know what is contributing to a less than perfect patient experience, you have the potential to turn a stressful visit into a productive, enjoyable one. It may mean working through all your internal processes and client touchpoints, but the results will be worth it. This might include access to client information, appointment booking options, the waiting room experience, account payments and access to support.
5. They Provide Honest Input from the People Who Matter Most
While your employees can make suggestions on what they think could be improved, it’s invaluable to know exactly what your clients think about you, your team and their treatment.
6. They Make it Possible to Recognise and Reward Top Performers
Conducting client satisfaction surveys has the additional benefit of boosting employee engagement. Because you can see from survey responses which staff members are contributing to a positive experience, you can show appreciation for their good work which would otherwise go unnoticed. Conversely, if there is a staff member who is impacting the client experience negatively, you can take steps to address the issue.
7. They Allow You to Improve Continuously
Often client satisfaction and engagement can get overlooked in the busyness of the daily running of a practice. Client surveys can help to keep the focus on the client experience as they are not a ‘once-off’ and allow you to make regular changes and improvements.
8. They Have a Great ROI
Let’s face it, in a physical therapy practice, it can be hard to keep on top of your costs, especially when you start to focus on marketing and advertising your practice. Research shows that existing clients are much more profitable for your practice than new clients, and client satisfaction surveys are one of the key ways to improve the client experience. This makes surveys a profitable, yet low-cost marketing activity. There are a number of online software tools that allow you to create your survey and share it with your clients for a minimal fee.
Consider the long-term patient feedback program that was initiated by the Derbyshire NHS Foundation Trust. By using a secure, straightforward survey system, they were able to get honest, insightful feedback about their processes which provided a high return on investment.
How to Get the Best Results from a Physical Therapy Patient Satisfaction Survey
If we’ve convinced you about the importance of implementing patient satisfaction surveys, it’s time to cover how to get the best results. It may take some trial and error to get the format and questions dialled in, but the effort will pay dividends in the end. There’s no point in sending client surveys if you don’t have a careful process mapped out for collecting and reviewing responses, and implementing changes.
Make it convenient
There are different options for asking clients to fill in a survey. If it’s short you could ask your client to fill it in after an appointment, but it’s usually better (and you get more helpful insights) if the survey link is emailed to the client immediately after their appointment. This means that they can fill in the survey at a more convenient time, but they have the link accessible so they can provide feedback while the experience is still fresh in their minds.
Anonymity is one of the best features of an online survey as clients can answer your questions openly and honestly, without worrying about the impact on their relationship with your practice. They might be finding the waiting room experience stressful, or the billing process frustrating, but wouldn’t want to communicate this in person for fear of offending someone or compromising their level of care. They’re much more likely to find another physical therapy practice instead.
Cover the most important processes and client touchpoints
You might need to split your questions into different surveys, but there are many processes and client touchpoints that need to be examined from when they first hear of your services or come into contact with your practice, right up until their visit is completed.
Limit Your Questions
Your survey shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to complete, so limit the number of questions to under 10. Focus on the most important areas and order them logically so that they have the same flow as the client would have experienced at your practice.
Use Ratings for Quantitative Analysis
Rating scales makes it easy for clients to answer quickly and will allow you to draw solid conclusions from the data as it is presented in numbers.
Get Qualitative Insights
After the client has completed the rating questions, it’s often very helpful to ask them to share further insights in the form of details and comments. This will highlight specific areas for improvement (or will let you know where you are performing well).
Take action (and communicate the changes)
It’s not going to make much difference to the client experience if all you do is collect survey responses and file them away for later. The most important part of patient satisfaction surveys is when you start to put the feedback into action. Part of that process is to communicate changes back to your clients to let them know that their feedback is valued and that you care about improving their experience at your practice.
It’s clear that client satisfaction is going to become more and more important for physical therapy practices, but if you don’t measure your client’s satisfaction, how do you know whether you need to improve and where those improvements need to happen?
A physical therapy patient satisfaction surveys offer qualitative and quantitative insights into your practice that will allow you to improve the client experience and boost your bottom line. So, if you haven’t already started satisfaction surveys, now’s the time to get going!