How to Administer Patient Experience Surveys and Find the Best Method for Your EMS Agency

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As patient experience becomes an ever more important component to EMS agencies’ operations, an increasing number of decisions are being based on data, particularly patient feedback data. Most providers choose to capture this feedback via patient experience surveys in one of three ways: mail, text, or email.


Each of these methods has advantages and disadvantages, which we will discuss here.


Traditional Methods to Capture Patient Experience Feedback



The majority of patients using EMS systems are older adults, and the general consensus is that this population is more comfortable using mail (i.e., paper) to provide feedback on their experience. While there’s truth to this, many Baby Boomers are also becoming more tech-savvy with each passing year.


In fact, this generation spends about five hours a day on smartphones (almost the same amount of time as Millennials). While most of the time is spent checking email, browsing the internet, and reading the news, nearly 30% of Baby Boomers use their smartphones to manage their medical care.


This data suggests that collecting patient feedback by mail may decline in the future as people — not just Baby Boomers — continue to use smart devices for everyday tasks. However, paper mail is still a reliable, cost-effective means of capturing patient experience feedback.



Capturing patient experience feedback via text is a growing methodology — especially when you consider the above data. Few people leave home without their smartphones, making it easier to ensure patients receive their patient experience survey questionnaires. Text is also less expensive than mail (no postage, paper, or ink). The challenge of this method is collecting valid mobile device numbers. That said, the immediacy of this channel is beneficial for patient surveys.



Most EMS agencies reserve email for employee engagement surveys or billing, but a few use this method to capture patient experience feedback. However, they often see mixed results. This is largely due to the fact that the EMS industry is not yet in the habit of collecting patient email addresses. As a result, our data lacks the consistency to provide actionable insights into the patient experience using this method.


Emerging Methods for Patient Experience Surveying


Though EMS agencies predominately conduct patient experience surveys through mail, text, and email, they’re far from the only means of capturing patient feedback. We’re now seeing some agencies turn to other digital methods at various points of the patient journey, including the following.



One of the main benefits of using tablets to gather patient experience feedback is that the feedback can be captured immediately while the patient is in the hospital. The problem is that patients may feel pressured to give a positive review since the EMS provider is standing beside them, which would skew the results.


Then, of course, there’s the question of appropriateness. Is it OK to ask patients for feedback while treatment is being administered? Besides, many EMS providers do not usually have the time to spend at the patient’s destination to capture such information. Much like email, lack of consistency may alter the results.



Giving patients the option to provide feedback on a specific landing page of an EMS agency website may seem like a sound decision. After all, you’re allowing them to take the survey on their own time in a location of their choosing. The issue with this method is participation. We’ve seen that people often don’t want to take the time to find the survey on a website and fill it out.


How to Decide Which Patient Experience Survey Method Is Right for Your Agency


After reviewing the options for collecting patient experience feedback, the question, then, is: Which method should your agency use? The answer frequently comes down to the population you serve. Consider demographics such as the age and geographic location of your patients to narrow the selection. Doing so helps you get in touch with the community you serve so you can make their experience better.


The goal is to expand the reach and participation in the patient experience surveys, and going with more than one method helps ensure you meet the needs of different patients (e.g., older or younger patients). It also helps to test different methods to gauge which one is easiest to use for your patients — and which one garners more responses. For example, try text messaging for six months or so and, if participation is minimal, then shift to mail.


Partnering With EMS Survey Team


At EMS Survey Team, we understand that anyone can collect patient experience data. The differentiator is what happens after the data is captured — that’s where you’ll see the real results. Our approach focuses on truly understanding the communities our clients serve to find the most effective patient experience surveying method. Otherwise, insights become less actionable and patients lose their voice.


If you’d like to learn more about how EMSST can help you gather patient experience feedback with the above survey methods, contact Robert Farrell, Director of Customer Experience – EMS Survey Team.

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