My firm uses several types of qualitative research methods to assess the patient experience. Our goal is to delve into patients’ thoughts and feelings to understand the perceptions of the experience and how they would describe it. Invariably when we are giving our reports, someone disputes the sample size as being too small. I try to help them understand that we aren’t doing the research to count how many, but rather to answer the why behind the survey scores.
During one of these conversations, I asked how many of them search the internet for reviews before making a reservation or purchase. Virtually everyone raised their hands. I also asked how many had written a review. Again, virtually everyone raised their hands. This information poses a great opportunity to point out that it only takes one bad review, negative post on Facebook or an angry tweet to open the social media floodgates.
Knowing the why behind your patient satisfaction scores makes all the difference in the world in formulating strategy, tactics, and targeted solutions. Both quantitative and qualitative data play a role in improving the patient experience. Even though qualitative research is often based on smaller samples, the information is rich and actionable. I like to think of the photos and comments we gather during mystery shopping or other research methods as tweets and Facebook posts. It only takes one.