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How to segment your hospital data to improve the patient experience for everyone

Listening to patients is necessary for understanding and improving their experience with your healthcare organization. By “listening to patients,” we don’t just mean listening when they’re in front of you, but seeking out and gathering feedback throughout the patient journey.

The “patient experience” isn’t a monolith. So how do you understand your patients’ unique needs? How do you identify gaps in care or where you’re missing the mark with different demographics? And how do you create a plan for providing an excellent patient experience for all? Beyond expanding where you “listen” for patient feedback, segmenting your data can help you get a better understanding of how to answer those questions—and to improve PX across the board.

6 ways to segment data for better patient experience and patient engagement

Segmenting your data lets you better understand patients and contextualize survey results. Then, this helps you deliver a deeper level of insights to improve PX. And when you improve PX, you also can earn patient loyalty, then retain loyal patients.

1. Customize patient experience surveys

Personalizing your patient experience survey questions helps you unlock better insights. While asking standard questions helps you benchmark, tailoring survey questions to different demographics helps you dig in deeper. Digital platforms give you the flexibility to customize surveys to different groups as well as based on facility or procedure and uncover population-specific insights. Expanding your scope helps you understand how to improve the experience for everyone—especially for historically marginalized and underserved groups, where benchmarking information is often still limited.

“How are you impacting the care that our patients rightly deserve? If patients don’t feel welcome—if they don’t feel the facility represents them or people don’t look like them—it makes things harder.”
 

— Michael Ugwueke President and CEO, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare

2. Randomize patient experience survey question sets

Randomize questions to capture a greater breadth of data without lengthening your surveys. Longer surveys can lead to survey abandonment—and deter patients from taking future surveys. But randomizing question sets helps you start connecting the dots in the patient experience without damaging your response rate.

3. Swap patient survey items in and out

Using the same surveys over and over again can exhaust patients. Plus, it captures a narrower view of the patient experience, when you could be sourcing new and interesting data points. Leveraging rotating-question banks keeps surveys fresh and relevant. It can also improve patient engagement and response rates—especially among those who’ve been sampled more than once. With rotating-question banks, you can couch your essential PX survey questions for consistency while experimenting with prompts meant to go a step beyond.

4. Lean on healthcare AI to do the heavy lifting

Artificial intelligence is your fast lane to the truth. Natural language processing (NLP) (that’s been trained on healthcare-specific vocabulary) converts verbatim patient comments into deeper insights and can tell you exactly what to do (or where to focus) next. In a sense, AI gives you superpowers. It can surface trends and problem areas in real time or near-real time—so your team can provide the fastest service recovery possible (and know what mistakes to avoid next time).

5. “Listen” for patient experience feedback online

What we’d traditionally call “word of mouth” now happens online. People freely leave feedback in public forums for others to learn from. In fact, 83% of patients will read a doctor’s online reviews before booking an appointment—even if they were referred. (And they’ll check at least three websites to make sure the story’s the same everywhere.) These online reviews are healthcare’s new litmus test, whether written on a doctor review site or provider directory like Healthgrades and WebMD, left on a Google Business Profile, tweeted out, or socialized in any other way. Keep your finger on the pulse web-wide by monitoring conversations in social media and patient reviews. Because patients are already having conversations about you online—whether you’re a part of them or not.

6. Don’t just look at patient demographics: Look at care settings 

Different patient demographics often report different healthcare experiences. And this is true across care settings. Breaking your data down to the unit level or service line will help you find which areas show signs of disparity and where the patient experience is falling behind. Digitalizing the rounding process can help you keep your ear to the ground on-site and make changes instantly, across settings. And it can help you collect site-specific data to begin effecting change where it will immediately be felt—and where it needs to happen most urgently.

Segmenting your data helps you understand patients better. Beyond viewing one single “patient experience,” it helps you better hone in on the individual’s experience with your organization and providers. So you can better understand patients’ needs and improve PX for all.

For an in-depth walk-through of data segmentation and our other dynamic survey capabilities, reach out to a Press Ganey expert.

About the author

Press Ganey invented the healthcare performance improvement movement over 35 years ago. Today it offers an integrated suite of solutions that address safety, clinical excellence, patient experience, and workforce engagement. The company works with more than 41,000 healthcare facilities in its mission to reduce patient suffering and enhance caregiver resilience to improve the overall safety, quality, and experience of care.

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