Survey Methodology and Bias

Survey Methodology and Bias

statistical bias and surveysUnderstanding and Avoiding Bias in Patient Experience Surveys

Gathering data isn’t always easy, especially when that data comes from people not directly connected to your organization. It’s one thing to get employees and physicians involved in surveys, but it requires much more care and consideration to engage patients.

For the past three decades, PRC has had to adapt to many different changes in healthcare. The only way that we can continue to offer the best patient experience surveys with the highest response rates in the industry is through an awareness and avoidance of bias.

What Is Bias?

Bias means that the results of your survey are skewed towards a certain type of people who aren’t wholly representative of your average patient. Usually, bias occurs when the survey methodology is only compelling to a very specific segment of the surveyed population.

For obvious reasons, bias must be taken into consideration when conducting patient experience surveys. Fortunately, our team at Professional Research Consultants, Inc. has identified which survey methods are more likely to yield biased results than others. We’ve found that it’s usually the passive survey methods, such as mailed or online surveys, that lead to the most bias.

Why Does Passive Survey Methodology Lead to Bias?

The answer is simple: because only the patients with a story to tell will take the time to complete the survey.

To put this into perspective, think back to the last time you filled out a comment card at a restaurant. Chances are, you only went out of your way to leave feedback because you had a significantly positive or negative experience to share. Maybe your food was cold with several hairs in it and the manager rudely refused to bring you a new meal. You’d want to share that. Or maybe your server was especially friendly and helpful, going out of their way to meet your specific dietary needs. You’d want to share that, too.

Either way, the point is that very few people will take the time to fill out a restaurant’s comment card if they’re “just” satisfied, which means all comments will come from people who are either furious or exuberant. Is that representative of any given restaurant’s customer base? No. Of course not.

How PRC Removes Bias from Patient Experience Surveys

Passive survey methodologies in health care lead to the same type of bias as the comment cards in restaurants. The patients who fill out mailed or Internet surveys will usually be those with a very positive or very negative experience to share. The “silently satisfied” patients won’t bother with these surveys because they simply don’t care.

At PRC, we avoid biased patient experience survey results with our advanced telephone methodology. Instead of letting your patients come to us, we go to them. We’ll contact patients at various times during the day, and at various times throughout the week to ensure that we get a hold of even the most difficult to reach patients. In addition, our highly trained interviewers have the skills necessary to get real, honest answers. And, because we perform surveys in weekly batches, you’re always guaranteed to get results from recent patients. Between these three factors, PRC is able to elicit an unbiased 90% to 95% response rate from your patients, which is unprecedented in the healthcare improvement industry.

Now, keep in mind that PRC has been in business for over 30 years. To boil down our advanced survey methodology into one simple blog post would be impossible, especially because our surveys are customized for each and every one of our partners. So, if you still have questions after reading this article, don’t worry! That’s to be expected.

Fortunately, we have a team of very knowledgeable, very friendly customer service staff who’d love nothing more than to chat with you about how we can help improve your health care organization. If you’d like to learn more about PRC and how we carry out our surveys, please Contact Us.

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