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How to use digital patient experience surveys to collect more data, faster

Today, the healthcare landscape looks a lot different than it did just a few years ago. How patients find, evaluate, choose, and even access care has evolved, meeting the digital era, the consumer movement, and the prevalence of technology in our day-to-day lives. Healthcare organizations must expand the patient experience to include the digital patient experience.

Healthcare can learn a lot from traditional consumer industries about how they get to know patients and their families. Health systems, hospitals, and clinics must modernize their patient feedback strategies to capture data and insights in the moment, not months down the line.

Healthcare leaders are reaping the benefits of digital patient surveys—and many are wondering why they didn’t make the change sooner. “Modernizing and digitalizing our surveys was an easy decision, because it’s allowed us to reach more patients in real time,” says Dr. Mark Kerschner, Medical Director at Bronson Methodist Hospital Emergency Department, Level 1 Trauma Center. “It helped us reach patients we weren’t continuously hearing from.”

Organizations can then use this data to better understand individuals, humanize the healthcare experience, and connect patients with their caregivers like never before.

6 core benefits of digital patient experience surveys

Deploying digital patient experience surveys, in addition to paper surveys, yields several advantages: more data, faster data, and richer data, from respondents representing a greater cross section of your patient population.

1. Tap into greater flexibility: Add and remove questions to capture feedback relevant to top-of-mind issues—new visitor policies, program rollouts, communication strategies, etc. The increased, built-in flexibility of digital patient experience surveys opens the door to agile learning, enabling your organization to introduce improvements to the patient experience in real time or near-real time.

2. Reach more patients: Meeting people where they are is a principle of healthcare consumerism. Distribute surveys through any channel, including email, text, web link, and QR code. One patient who doesn’t have time to fill out and return a paper survey might not mind clicking a link to answer questions online. Enhance your data by monitoring the conversation on social channels to gain immediate insights into the digital patient experience and even implement faster service recovery.

3. Improve response rates: The modern technologies of the digital age let healthcare organizations cast a wider net and improve response rates. At Bronson Methodist: “Over the course of about four years, the number of responses we receive from our patients has increased more than five-fold since adding digital surveys,” says Dr. Kerschner. When other Press Ganey clients supplement email surveys with text delivery, they’ve increased response rates by 23%—with 82% returned via mobile device.

4. Connect with patients of all ages: While digital adoption has been largely driven by tech-savvy millennials and Gen Z, patients over age 60 are quickly catching up. Social channels and online review sites are also critical insight generators about boomers and seniors: Roughly 60% of patients over 60 have left a review for a provider online (compared to 44.8% of millennials and Gen Z).

5. Unlock deeper, more robust insights with AI, faster: Using artificial intelligence in healthcare can humanize the datapoints, so you understand the people behind the numbers. Next-generation natural language processing (NLP) does the heavy lifting for you by digging deeper into patient comments. This cutting-edge technology can unearth previously overlooked trends, while connecting the dots between patient feedback and the employees who cared for them.

6. Reduce survey fatigue: Long, redundant, and duplicative surveys—as well as over-surveying—frustrate respondents, leading to inaccurate data and survey abandonment. With dynamic, digital surveys, you can randomize and rotate questions to maximize input. Swap questions in and out to keep content fresh and relevant, improving patient response rates while simultaneously keeping surveys to the point and getting the data you need.

Modernizing and digitalizing our surveys was an easy decision, because it’s allowed us to reach more patients in real time. It helped us reach patients we weren’t continuously hearing from.”

Dr. Mark Kerschner
Medical Director, Bronson Methodist Hospital Emergency Department, Level 1 Trauma Center

Improving the patient experience, driving patient satisfaction, and building patient loyalty all hinge on listening to patients, then using their feedback to create action plans. Collecting feedback across multiple outlets paints a fuller, richer, and more accurate picture of the patient experience—and instantly shows you where the gaps are.

Do the prep work for your digital patient experience—but don’t ditch your paper and phone surveys

To distribute digital patient experience surveys, you need to know how to reach your audience. This means collecting email addresses and/or mobile phone numbers in advance. Capture patient contact information during appointment booking, when confirming the appointment, at check-in, or via intake forms. Be up front about what their information will—and won’t—be used for when they opt in.

One of the tenets of the digital age is to meet people where they are—and interact on their terms. Not everyone is comfortable with—or capable of—filling out electronic surveys, and mailing paper surveys or conducting interviews over the phone will be key to gathering feedback from those patients. Reach out to a member of the Press Ganey team here if you want to discuss merging your analog and digital survey strategies. We’ll walk you through some of the proven best practices and devise an action plan that will work for you.

Listening to patients is a pillar of providing Compassionate, Connected Care®. Today’s digital tools and technologies enable the healthcare industry to do this job better. By harnessing the power of technology, we can radically transform the patient experience—thus designing the future of healthcare not just for patients, but with them.

Want to explore this topic further? We'd love to chat—reach out to a digital patient experience expert here.

About the author

Press Ganey, a leading healthcare performance improvement solutions company, offers an integrated suite of solutions that put Human Experience at the center of healthcare enterprise transformation. Delivered through a cutting-edge digital platform built on a foundation of data security, Press Ganey solutions address patient experience, healthcare consumer experience, workforce engagement, safety, clinical excellence and more. Guided by its team of renowned healthcare thought leaders, Press Ganey works with more than 41,000 healthcare facilities to reduce patient suffering, enhance caregiver resilience and improve the overall safety, quality and experience of care. Press Ganey is a PG Forsta company.

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