Implementing a physical therapy patient satisfaction survey is an easy and reliable way to gauge how your patients feel about your clinic.
Over 90% of healthcare consumers surveyed believe that improving the customer experience should be a top priority for healthcare providers — and that includes physical therapists. Measuring patient satisfaction shows that you care about your patients’ opinions, making them more likely to continue using your services and even recommend your practice to others.
High-quality care and patient satisfaction are inherently connected. Patients who are satisfied by their experience with physical therapy are more likely to attend appointments, keep up with home exercise programs, and return to your practice for future issues. To determine whether or not your patients are happy with your services, use a physical therapy patient satisfaction survey. This tool will provide valuable insights about what you should keep doing and what you should change to improve the patient experience, and ultimately, recovery and outcomes.
1. Identify the key areas of interest for your physical therapy patient satisfaction survey
A patient satisfaction survey is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every physical therapy clinic is different, along with its services, patients, and overall experience. Although survey templates and examples are a great way to get ideas, your practice will benefit most from creating a customized survey. By determining specific areas to evaluate in your physical therapy patient satisfaction survey, you create a survey tailored to your practice’s unique challenges and business goals.
Although clinic leadership oversees the operations and business strategy of a PT clinic, they typically don’t see much of the patient experience. That’s why it’s essential to collaborate with your team — including PTAs and other support staff — to pinpoint potential areas for improvement in your practice.
Your PTs and support staff’s day-to-day routines are centered around working with patients, so they probably already have an idea of what patients like or dislike about the practice. This could include factors such as appointment availability, communication, and one-on-one time between patients and PTs.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider the three main goals of any healthcare provider:
- Providing quality care
- Ensuring care is accessible
- Delivering a positive, respectful patient experience
A very broad survey with tons of questions won’t give you specific, actionable responses to help you make better business decisions. Instead, focus on three or four specific aspects of your practice. For instance, SPORT Physical Therapy measures patient satisfaction across three areas — reception, treatment, and support staff — to streamline their survey questions.
2. Develop survey questions based on your practice’s key areas of interest
Once you’ve determined three or four key areas of interest to measure in your patient satisfaction survey, then you can start coming up with questions to evaluate them. For instance, if you want to assess the quality of care at your clinic, ask questions like:
- Do you feel better as compared to before you started physical therapy?
- Do you feel like you have enough one-on-one time with your physical therapist?
- Do you feel like you have achieved your goals for physical therapy?
If you’re more interested in evaluating communication at your practice, consider asking questions like:
- Was it easy for you to schedule an appointment with us?
- How satisfied are you with the reception at our practice?
- Do you feel like you could easily communicate with your physical therapist before a session? What about after a session?
A survey that focuses on specific areas of your practice will yield more specific feedback. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use a physical therapy patient satisfaction survey to measure more general aspects of your practice. In this case, make sure your survey flows in a logical order so respondents don’t get confused.
For example, this physical therapy patient satisfaction survey from Function First Physical Therapy uses a logical framework to organize its questions. The survey starts with the patient’s initial contact with their practice and first visit, then moves on to follow-up visits and quality of care, finally concluding with outcomes and overall satisfaction.
Some other best practices when developing survey questions include:
- Don’t ask leading or biased questions, e.g., “Did you love your experience with our team of experts?”
- Avoid asking double-barreled questions, e.g., “How satisfied are you with the quality and efficiency of our receptionists?”
- Use more closed-ended questions than open-ended ones, e.g., yes/no, multiple choice, or ratings.
- Include response scales whenever you can, e.g., extremely satisfied, moderately satisfied, slightly satisfied, slightly dissatisfied, moderately dissatisfied, extremely dissatisfied.
3. Keep your patient satisfaction survey clear and concise
Don’t make your survey so long people will be discouraged from answering. As a rule of thumb, try to limit your survey to no more than 10 questions. Research from SurveyMonkey shows that “respondents take more time per question when responding to shorter surveys compared to longer surveys.” When respondents spend less time answering your patient satisfaction survey, you are likely to get less accurate or valuable results.
This physical therapy patient satisfaction survey from Spine & Sport Physical Therapy only has four multiple choice questions and one open-ended question about the patient’s overall opinion. They also preface the questions by saying it’s a quick survey to get a snapshot of the patient experience, which could encourage more responses.
4. Distribute your survey to patients
Each distribution method requires time and resources, so choose the option that your team can most realistically handle. In-person surveys maintain the highest response rate at 57%, but mail and online surveys can still help you collect valuable information about your patients’ experiences. Phone surveys offer the added benefit of being able to ask follow-up questions based on the responses.
A survey tool can simplify the process of creating and managing your patient satisfaction surveys. In fact, most online survey tools will automatically generate a spreadsheet of your results. SurveyMonkey is a popular survey tool that offers multiple subscription levels to meet varying business needs. Survio is another online survey tool that offers free templates to help you get started, like this physical therapy patient satisfaction survey template.
Once you’ve picked a method of distributing your survey, you have to decide when you want to send surveys to your patients. The two most common options are after a patient’s first visit and after they complete treatment. If you have the time and resources, consider distributing physical therapy patient satisfaction surveys multiple times. You can even send out follow-up surveys a few months after a patient leaves your practice to see if their responses have changed over time.
Use survey results to make data-driven business decisions
Your survey is only as valuable as its results. When you analyze the data from your patient satisfaction survey, you might notice several different issues that come up. For example, if you’re seeing that many patients do not complete treatment or show up for their first appointment, you might have issues with poor scheduling, long wait times, or confusing insurance policies. To improve patient care and support business growth, you’ll have to find solutions for these problems.
Another common issue is that patients are unhappy with limited access to care. In this case, you can try expanding your services to include telehealth physical therapy, where PTs remotely monitor patients as they perform their home exercise protocols. Newer tools like Exer Health improve the at-home PT experience by providing live form feedback as patients practice their exercises. PTs can then review patient performance data and make adjustments to their treatment plan as needed.