Are Your Patients Satisfied With Your Physical Therapy Practice?

Physical Therapy Practice Patient Satisfaction SurveyMost physical therapy practices strive not only to meet, but also to exceed the expectations of their patients. However, not all patients that walk through the doors of your physical therapy practice will be comfortable telling you when they believe something needs improvement. Patient surveys can serve as voices for those who otherwise might remain silent.

Why Should You Survey Your Patients?

Patient surveys can be your most vital tool for measuring your physical therapy patients’ satisfaction with your practice. By obtaining information about your practice directly from your patients, you have the ability to make valuable changes to your physical therapy practice to improve your patients’ satisfaction.

One of the many great things about patient surveys is that the patients can choose to remain anonymous. So even the most timid physical therapy patients will have the ability to voice their true opinions.

Additionally, nowadays, many insurers, including Medicare, are beginning to utilize patient satisfaction scores to determine how much they will pay hospitals and physicians. As of last year, Medicare has already begun requiring that hospitals submit patient satisfaction surveys before they will reimburse for services, and they plan to extend this practice to physical therapy outpatient clinics in the future.

Creating patient surveys and making them easily and readily available to patients in your physical therapy practice not only benefits your patients, but also you as a physical therapist. Surveys provide you with a detailed record of what works for your patients as well as what needs improvement, so you have the opportunity to ensure your patients’ future satisfaction. Satisfied patients refer their families and friends, and in response, your physical therapy practice grows.

How to Design Patient Surveys

The survey design will be determined by a variety of factors, including the physical therapist’s budget, whether they want to conduct the survey themselves or hire a company to do it for them, and whether to conduct the patient survey on paper or online.

You will find a number of companies on the internet that will create, administer, and analyze the surveys for you. Many also offer benchmarking against other physical therapists across the country. Press Ganey is probably the most well known and widely used company to provide these kinds of services to large hospitals and outpatient clinics across the country.

The Department of Health and Human Services offers a free copy of their Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Clinician & Group survey (CG-CAHPS) along with instructions for analyzing your survey results.

Physical therapists have the option of creating their own survey questions based on what is most important to them or by using the CG-CAHPS as a template. Your survey should be as short as possible while still allowing yourself to gather the information you are looking for. The reason for this is that patients are a lot more likely to fill out—and return!—a survey that doesn’t take too much of their time.

You are more likely to receive more responses from an online survey than you will from one that your patients have to mail in or bring back with them. You could set up a computer or a tablet in your physical therapy practice to allow patients to fill out the survey before they leave while the experience is still fresh in their minds or at discharge.

A Few Online Tools to Get Started

If you are leaning towards writing your own patient surveys, here are some online survey tools I have found to be helpful. Some offer free services but limit how many surveys you can create or how many responses you can receive. Paid services range anywhere from around $20 to upwards of $200 per month.

 

  1. SurveyMonkey is the most well-known online survey tool. With a free account, you will have access to their Question Bank with certified questions (or you can create your own) and you can choose an attractive theme. You can send your survey through e-mail, post to Twitter or Facebook, embed it on your blog or website, and even add a reward for completing it. They also handle the analysis for you.

  2. Wufoo  keeps the process of creating your surveys simple and easy enough to understand.  The forms are clean and easy to customize. They also have great looking reports to help you visualize your results.

  3. SurveyGizmo offers just about every capability you could possibly desire with a paid account. They do offer discounts for nonprofits. They also offer a free account, SGLite, for those who need less than 50 responses.

  4. Polldaddy is from the same company who created WordPress. They have 24/7 technical help as well. With Polldaddy, you can get a free account that allows you 200 survey responses per month, a limit of 10 questions per survey, basic reporting, and they include Polldaddy links in all the surveys. Their other accounts range from $200 to $899 per year and include all the bells and whistles.

  5. Google Forms is a popular free service and probably the best option for small-scale surveying. You get an unlimited amount of surveys and space for well over 1,000 responses.  There are many themes to choose from for the look and feel of your survey. Google also makes emailing or web embedding your survey easy.

 

 

What to Do With The Survey Results

Once patients have returned the surveys, it’s up to you to read their suggestions and make improvements to your physical therapy practice so that your patients will be happier—and happy patients lead to more referrals for you. Below are a few recommendations for how to use your survey results efficiently.

1. You can use strong patient satisfaction scores to negotiate contracts and payments with insurers, and this is only going to become more pertinent as more insurers begin to require survey results before reimbursing.

2. You can benchmark scores with other physical therapy practices across the country to see how you compare.

3. Address all concerns mentioned, especially those mentioned by multiple patients, and devise thoughtful methods of eradicating those concerns.

4. Provide additional staff training for areas that received low scores.

5. Link survey results to changes you have made in your physical therapy practice, so patients can see that you care about what they want and that you are reading the surveys. This will also make them feel more comfortable with completing the surveys.

Whenever you can create an atmosphere that makes patients feel as if their thoughts, feelings, and opinions really matter to you, you will see your practice grow. Physical therapy patient surveys will help you to do that.