Thursday Thoughts – Obtaining Feedback

Screen Shot 2020-05-21 at 16.17.14The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed us to quickly change our typical processes and day-to-day operations, but we also have opportunities to pioneer new operational approaches.   As we start to settle into a “new normal,” it is increasingly important to remember the voice of the “customer” – be it patient, staff, providers, partners, or the community at large – when deciding what changes to adopt, and identifying where continued improvement is needed.

The audience or “customer” may vary widely. While in QI we usually focus on learning the patient’s perspective, don’t forget about staff and providers! The type of feedback to collect can also vary – you may wish to assess satisfaction with a particular experience, or you may want to poll for preferences among a list of options to explore for future implementation. In this environment, where time constraints are at the forefront, think about obtaining “just enough” information to guide your decisions, and keep your surveys brief.

Here are a few tips for building a survey from scratch:

  1. What do you need to know? Confirm the purpose/goal of the survey.
  2. Who are your targeted respondents?
  3. Types of questions: what will work best?  e.g. multiple choice, checkboxes, rating on a scale, or free-response?
  4. Keep the wording clear and concise.
  5. Use multiple communication vehicles: Consider multiple formats for distributing the survey, e.g. web-based, telephone, or paper/mail.
  6. Plan for aggregating and analyzing the feedback.

As you continue to shift your healthcare delivery to best serve the needs of your patients, we hope that you consider the critical role of the “customer’s” voice. If you are still unsure of how to get started, try exploring these additional resources:

Survey-Building Websites
Resources to Inspire Your Question Design
  • Health Quality Ontario: Primary Care Patient Experience Support Guide [PDF]
  • Agency for Health Research and Quality (AHRQ) [website]
  • Press Ganey’s two-part report on patient experience in the time of coronavirus

If you’d like to share a story of your improvement work, a resource that you find helpful, or just a quick note, please reach out to us at

Teresa Hofer

Teresa Hofer, MPH, PMP, CHES®, is a Senior Program Manager at IHQC.

Teresa HoferThursday Thoughts – Obtaining Feedback