5 Considerations for Annual Patient Follow-Up Surveys

Patient follow-up surveys can provide crucial insights into long-term outcomes, treatment tracking, and patient health. Read more.

Published
11.30.2023
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5 Considerations for Annual Patient Follow-Up Surveys

5 Considerations for Annual Patient Follow-Up Surveys
Patient follow-up surveys can provide crucial insights into long-term outcomes, treatment tracking, and patient health. Read more.

Patient follow-up forms and surveys contain critical data for long-term outcomes, tracking treatments, staying engaged with patients, and uncovering new insights. But finding the right ways to gather and organize that data isn’t straightforward.

Organizing Patient Followup Surveys and Data

The healthcare industry is synonymous with mass data and processes, and finding the right way to easily gather—and organize—the data you need is key. Huge amounts of forms and surveys are still sent out by physical mail or word documents, making it harder to organize and filter the data received. 

Seemingly simple forms can cause a lot of legwork and administration if the data—and form process—is being organized manually. 

Annual Patient Follow-up Surveys and Long-Term Outcomes

If you’re tracking long-term outcomes and gathering annual follow-up information following diagnoses with patients, automating the survey process can be a huge help. For example, you might automate annual check-ins and health metric gathering for patients following an oncology diagnosis. 

Automating patient surveys saves time, costs, and headache, but there are things to consider to make sure you’re using the right method for your unique needs. We’ve identified five major considerations and outcomes for ensuring efficiency with your follow-up surveys: 

  1. Reducing mistakes → Automating data-entry
  2. Improving insights → Question design
  3. Understanding trends → Multi-year reporting
  4. Delivering insights → System integration

1. Reducing Mistakes

Almost all patient forms—including patient follow-up forms and annual check-ins—ask patients to update their information on file. They are usually prompted to fill in these data fields if anything has changed. For example:

This seemingly simple process opens up a ton of opportunities for mistakes. 

Automating the survey process makes it easier for patients to update their information accurately. This keeps your patient data clean and accurate. 

For example, at Checkbox, we have a solution called the Profile Property Updater. This allows you to automatically update patients’ custom profile properties with survey answers, so updating their information accurately and easily. 

2. Improving Insights

If you’re sending a survey to gather patient data, it pays to make sure that you’re gaining the right insights. Formatting your survey and asking the right questions is crucial. 

For example, look at the following survey questions:

 

These questions could be adjusted slightly to gain a very high level of accuracy. Here’s how we would recommend adjusting the survey and questions:

  1. What is the name of your current family doctor? 
  1. Ideal question type: Drop down list
  1. When did you last see your family doctor? 
  1. Ideal question type: Date picker
  1. Do you have any health problems?
  1. Ideal question type: Checkbox question type
  1. Do you have any fertility issues? 
  1. Ideal question type: Radio button with logic based follow up 
  1. Do you have any mental health problems?
  1. Checkbox question type

By choosing the correct digital question type, you can already see the number of mistakes that would be avoided. Plus, these questions give more opportunities for deeper insights and granular data gathering. 

This in turn helps you provide more specialized patient care, and improves your insights into your patients. 

The quality of your survey questions determines the quality of your reporting. Consider the objective of the survey, the type of data that would be most insightful, and which type of questions will return the desired data structure for long-term learning. 

3. Understanding Trends 

Being able to understand trends over time (and based on things you know about patients) is important for diving deeper into the data. 

We’ve noticed that a unique challenge for this type of survey is that the free-form nature of a lot of the data usually makes analysis impossible at worst, or very hard at best. Much of what you are trying to do is turn unstructured data into structured insights that help doctors and nurses make better decisions. 

Creating a solid process for data organization is important. 

A couple of things that can help are: 

  1. Multi-year reporting - By nature, annual follow-up surveys will contain trends and data over time.

    Reporting your data through a multi-year lens is critical. To do this, you will need to organize—and ideally gather—your data digitally and/or automatically. That way, you can delve into reporting and analytics for the data to find trends over time. 
  2. Cleaning and organizing data - If your data is cleaned and organized digitally, you can run reports and look at dashboards to understand trends.

    For example, in Checkbox, you can filter your results by different years, responses, and more. All of this is user-friendly and simple, and avoids the headache of manually trawling through endless unstructured data. Read more about how that works here, or set up a free trial and we can talk through how this could help with your process specifically. 


Ultimately, if your patient data is gathered and organized digitally, you can dig into it in different ways to easily pull insights and analyze trends over time. This gives you deeper levels of insight, but it also saves you vital time and energy sifting through the data. 

4. Delivering Insights

Once you are able to automate data collection and have found the right method for organizing the insights, it’s critical to consider exactly how you will get these insights into the decision paths of the right people in your organization. 

This is typically where most companies advise on expensive system integrators or confusing data structures. At Checkbox, we make it easy for healthcare companies to share insights across teams. You don’t need heavy technical knowledge to have records flow into your existing patient record system. You don’t need to code anything to get alerts set up with email automations. 

It shouldn’t be difficult to share your patient data and insights with the right people. 

5. Finding the Right Tool

If you’re ready to look at automating the process for collecting and organizing annual patient follow-up surveys, you also want to make sure you’re using the right tool for your specific needs. 

Some factors to consider when looking around are:

  1. Budget - Make sure this is in line with what’s feasible for your organization.
  2. Security and data needs - Make sure your data is protected the way you need it to be. Consider things like HIPAA and GDPR compliance. 
  3. Hosting - In line with the above, check that the tool you use can be hosted where you need it, whether via SaaS or self-host/on-premises. 
  4. Ease of use/level of technical knowledge required - Consider your team, the people that will be sending and analyzing surveys, and what they need. How technical are they? How much time are you willing to put into training the team? 

How Checkbox can Help

At Checkbox, we make patient feedback and surveys simple. 

We’ve been working with healthcare companies for over 15 years. We support some of the world’s largest organizations in automating critical data capture from patients and doctors across their different patient touchpoints. 

We’ve taken their feedback and created a survey platform that’s simple and works for the specialized needs of patient follow-up processes. 

How does this help you? 

  • Ease of use
  • No coding - Our drag-and-drop interface requires no coding experience. Instead, start collecting feedback easily as soon as you create an account.
  • Simple automations - For example, set up automated reminders for patients to complete their follow-up surveys easily. 
  • Easy for patients and providers - Surveys shouldn’t be difficult for your patients or your team. 
  • Track data over time - Automatically collect data. Then, easily track patient progress over time and look at long-term trends in the data. 
  • Templates - We are constantly building out a library of survey templates to make the process even easer for our customers. You can check out the Annual Patient Followup Survey template here.
  • Security and compliance
  • Compliance - Checkbox offers HIPAA-compliant survey software that is also PIPEDA ready.
  • Hosting options - Run Checkbox via SaaS or collect on-premises surveys/self-host. Choose where you store your data for ultimate data security.

Conclusion

If you’re creating surveys for annual patient follow-ups, it pays to automate the process and make sure you’re gathering the best insights from the data. 

The good news is that there are tools that can help. And it doesn’t have to be challenging to get set up. There are ways to automatically gather patient information and then gain the insights you need from the data without coding experience—and without sinking a huge amount of time and effort into doing so. 

Sign up for a free trial to see Checkbox in action for annual patient follow-up surveys.

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