Just as you check in with your patients regarding their current health status on a regular basis, you should be conducting periodic surveys with your active and inactive patients for feedback. In other words, are you meeting or exceeding active patients' expectations, and in the case of inactive patients, what is preventing them from returning to your office for care?
If you have patients' e-mail addresses, a survey can be done using online services such as Constant Contact, Vista, Survey Monkey, etc. If you Google "Patient Satisfaction Surveys," you will find many sample surveys and vendors who will conduct the surveys for you (or from whom you can purchase survey software). An advantage to using the online services is that they provide you with easy-to-read results and statistics.
If an online survey is not an option at this time, you can conduct the survey via the mail. It is recommended that you include a self-addressed, return-postage-paid envelope. Either way, taking the survey outside of the office will allow patients to complete it when it is convenient for them. Also be sure to clearly state the deadline for returning it to you.
I recently received a survey in the mail from the United States Postal Service that also gave me instructions on how to take the survey online if I did not want to complete and return the paper version. I responded online and finished it in less than 10 minutes.
Regardless of how you conduct the survey, it is important to find out what you are doing right in your practice and the areas that need improvement. In addition to feedback regarding improvements, you will also receive feedback regarding your strengths, which can be a huge morale booster for the entire team. Areas that should be evaluated include service, team (including doctors) and the facility. Here are some sample questions covering each of these areas:
- How long did you wait before you were greeted upon your arrival?
- Did the front-desk CA come around into the reception area to greet you?
- Did the front-desk CA shake your hand when they greeted you?
- Did the front-desk CA tell you their first name when they welcomed you?
- How long did it take you to complete your paperwork before you saw the doctor?
- From the time you completed your paperwork, how long was your wait to see the doctor?
- Was parking adequate?
- Was the reception area clean?
- Was the office easy to find (good signage)?
- Did the doctor call you after your first treatment?
- How long do you wait on an average from your scheduled time before going back to the treatment room? (Remember that if patients are waiting more than 10 minutes for a regular visit consistently, they most likely will not continue care beyond the symptomatic stage.)
- Are office hours convenient for you? If no, what would work better for you?
- Has your account with us been handled to your satisfaction?
- Do you appreciate it when we call you if you miss an appointment?
- When where you last seen?
Team and Doctor
- Is the CA professionally dressed?
- Is it easy to identify the CA?
- Does the CA greet you promptly upon your arrival? If no, how long does it take before you are greeted?
- Is the chiropractor professionally dressed? Is it easy to identify them?
- Does the doctor see you at your scheduled time? If no, how long is your average wait time?
- Does the doctor understand your needs?
- Does the front desk CA understand your needs?
- Does the doctor clearly explain your need for care and answer your questions to your satisfaction?
- Are gowns clean and closures in working order?
- Are restrooms clean and well-equipped?
- Are the floors and carpets clean?
- Are reading materials appropriate?
- How long have you been a chiropractic patient?
- Have you referred family or friends to chiropractic care?
- Have you referred family or friends to our office? If no, why?
- Is the temperature comfortable?
- Does the office smell fresh?
- Do you know how to reach the doctor in case of a chiropractic emergency outside of office hours?
- How would you change the staff, office, or procedures we use to improve the quality of care?
- How would you describe our educational efforts?
- If there were no insurance coverage that covered chiropractic care, how likely would you be to come here for care?
- Can we contact you via e-mail or phone with additional questions? If yes, please indicate phone or e-mail address.
There are various formats you can use for responses, depending on the nature of the question. For example, you may give the patient choices such as "very satisfied," "mostly satisfied," "somewhat satisfied," "somewhat dissatisfied," "mostly dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied"; or "strongly agree," somewhat agree," "neither agree or disagree," "somewhat disagree," strongly disagree" or "don't know." For questions involving wait time, etc., choices can include "less than 1 minute," "1-3 minutes," "4-5 minutes," "6-10 minutes," "11-15 minutes," "16 minutes or more" and "don't know / don't recall." Some questions may require only a simple "yes" or "no" response, and still others will necessitate a 1-10 scale with 1 being "uninterested" and 10 being "deeply concerned." Some questions, such as "Why would you not refer people to our office?" will require a written/narrative response.
I think it is safe to say that the success of your practice is in direct proportion to your customers' enthusiasm, and as business owners, we are always on the lookout for ways to improve our service, increase profitability and serve more people. Surveys will allow you to meet the needs of your current patients and also may bring dissatisfied patients back. If you would like a sample survey, please send an e-mail to with "Survey" in the subject field.
Click here for previous articles by Lisa Bilodeau, CA.