Who and What to Survey

Guidelines for Practice Success | Managing Marketing | The Patient Survey

Many dental practices find it helpful to conduct patient satisfaction surveys as a way to find out what patients like, and don’t like, about their experiences in the practice. The results from these surveys offer feedback on the type of patient experience your practice delivers. That information can be used to tweak systems that should enhance the patient experience and can offer insights that can be incorporated into your marketing campaign.

You can opt to survey every patient after each visit, target a specific patient population, or conduct a survey among randomly-selected patients.

Questions can cover a range of topics, including:

  • How comfortable the reception area is.
  • Whether the patient was seen on time or, if they had to wait, how long they were kept waiting.
  • Whether they felt their dental concerns were adequately addressed.
  • Whether they had an overall positive experience at the practice.
  • Whether they would recommend the practice to family members, friends and/or colleagues.
  • How they initially learned about the practice.

Consider these suggestions when planning a patient survey:

  • Customize the survey so it’s appropriate for the group of patients being asked to respond.
    • For instance, new patients should be asked different questions than those in your recare program.
  • Be realistic about how many questions you ask.
    • Ask the most important questions first so you receive the most valuable information even if the patient doesn’t complete the survey.
    • Don’t ask questions that aren’t relevant or that provide input on things you cannot or will not change.
    • Keep it brief since patients are using their personal time to provide feedback.
  • All electronic communications should make it easy for patients to opt out of future communications.
  • Your practice management software may include an electronic instant survey for patients.
    • Make sure you review the questions asked to ensure they’re relevant to your practice and your patients.
  • Several online survey vendors allow you to create a free, customized survey that can be shared with patients via email so they can complete it anonymously.
    • While this option requires some investment of staff time, it allows for complete customization of questions and possible responses.
    • Keep in mind that basic surveys are generally free and that lengthier questionnaires, or in-depth reporting of results, typically involve additional costs.
    • Determine whether the vendor who fields your survey is a HIPAA business associate and, if so, make sure you have a business associate agreement in place.
  • Assign a staff member to compile and share survey results with you and the entire team.
    • Use that information for a team discussion about ways to improve processes, communications, or other areas where change might be helpful.
  • Consider inviting satisfied patients to provide post treatment feedback on social media.
    • Positive online reviews are today’s version of word-of-mouth advertising and can be an effective way to attract new patients.
    • This can be done at the end of your survey or mentioned by your front desk staff.

Sample Copy to Accompany the Patient Satisfaction Survey [PDF]

Sample Patient Satisfaction Survey [PDF]