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4 Tips for Deciding Your Patient Experience Survey Themes

How do you decide what to ask in your Patient Experience survey, when it could be anything and everything?

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Your patients have physical, emotional and personal needs and often rely on support from caregivers. Capture enough of your patients’ need areas and don’t forget to measure caregiver thoughts.
  2. Your purpose or how you’re going to use your measurement outcomes. Ensure that you are able to relate outcomes to your KPIs.
  3. If you’re thinking about benchmarking, keep your questions aligned with best practice and make sure your sample is representative of the patient demographics that come through your door.
  4. If you want richer insights into patient experience or stories to alert or encourage staff, then identify what patients feel are the most important aspects in their experience of your healthcare setting, and seek specific information around that.

We looked at outcomes from a 2009 research report by The Kings Fund around patient ratings of aspects of inpatient care, and, a recent 2015 report by Deloitte that looked at the patient experience link to profitability. Here are our observations:


The Picker Institute (Europe) also identified that, how nurses and doctors interact with patients was a key determinant of overall satisfaction with care; and in particular, how coordinated their efforts were and whether they treated patients with dignity and respect.

Here are *14 key patient experience themes that healthcare settings use in their surveys, in a quest to measure the ‘right’ things:

Communication with doctors and nurses Confidence and trust in health professionals
Compassion and empathy Involvement in treatment decisions
Responsiveness of hospital staff Coordination and Integration
Emotional support – relieving fear and anxiety Being treated with dignity and respect
Involvement of family and friends Pain management
Cleanliness Quietness
Discharge processes Post-discharge

So start here. Start right. And you’ll be well on your way to getting impactful outcomes.



*based on HCAHPS (US), Picker (Europe) and NHS (UK) domains

Core Domains for Measuring Inpatient Experience of Care 2009 – The Picker Institute Europe

Patient Engagement and Their experience: The Virtual Touchpoint, 2012 – Tower Group Whitepaper

The Value of Patient Experience 2016 – Deloitte Report

The Point of Care Measures of patients’ experience in hospital: purpose, methods and uses, The Kings Fund 2009

About the Author: Dr Avnesh Ratnanesan

Dr Avi is a medical doctor with broad healthcare sector experience including hospitals, biotech, pharmaceuticals and the wellness industry. He is a leading expert who coaches and consults to senior executives, entrepreneurs, practitioners, organisations and governments.