Health survey questions to ask patients

Regardless of the medical setting — whether it’s a doctor’s office, hospital, or other healthcare facility — capturing patient data is a critical part of the healthcare process. Patients typically fill out surveys and questionnaires to provide medical professionals with more background on their health, which, in turn, helps the medical professionals provide better care.

“A questionnaire survey is used to obtain information about respondents’ health and well-being,” says Justin Nabity, founder and CEO of Physicians Thrive, an advisory group helping physicians build their financial education and avoid business and legal pitfalls. “Health survey questions enable doctors and medical workers to have a better understanding of a person’s overall health, illness factors, viewpoint on provided healthcare services, and health-related risk factors.”

Categories of health survey questions

If you’re in the process of developing health survey questions, there are a few key guidelines to keep in mind. “Valid, dependable, clear, brief, and engaging are all qualities of an excellent questionnaire,” says Nabity. “It’s critical to construct the questionnaire using a conceptual framework, to review each question for relevance and clarity, and to consider the analysis you’ll conduct at the end of the day.”

The design of a health questionnaire is also key to ensuring medical professionals get the responses they need. The focus should be on developing a questionnaire that’s easy to follow.

“Questionnaires used in survey research should be well-designed and easy to understand,” says Nabity. “It’s best to avoid using solely capital (uppercase) letters because this format is difficult to read. The questions should be numbered and categorized by topic. Furthermore, whether utilizing open or closed questions, researchers should outline how answers will be analyzed in advance and provide headings to make the questionnaire easy to read.”

Here are some of the most important sections to include in your health survey questionnaire.

Contact information

Health survey forms need to collect patient contact information so administrators can reach patients for follow-up. Contact information includes

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Phone number
  • Alternate phone number
  • Email address
  • Mailing address

Demographics

Some medical or health survey forms may include patient demographics questions. These may provide medical professionals with more insight into their patients’ health. Patient demographics include

  • Date of birth 
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Racial or ethnic background
  • Languages spoken

Emergency contact

It’s important to know who to contact in case of an emergency while the patient is in the care of your medical facility. Healthcare administrators can contact a family member or close friend to provide them with the most up-to-date information on the patient. Emergency contact information includes the person’s

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Phone number
  • Alternate phone number
  • Relationship to patient

Medical history

A patient’s medical history helps the healthcare provider understand the patient’s current state of health and determine requirements for future care. When you’re developing your health survey questions, you might want to include open-ended questions so patients can describe their medical history in their own words. Alternatively, you could opt to use a list of medical issues with checkboxes next to them, allowing patients to select the issues they have had in the past, have currently, or have in their family history.

Regardless of how you choose to approach it, Nabity says it’s a necessary section. Here are some options for the kinds of questions you might include:

  • How healthy do you consider yourself on a scale of 1–10 (with 1 being unhealthy)?
  • Do you have any chronic illnesses?
  • Do you have any hereditary diseases or conditions?
  • How often do you have a physical examination?

Scenario-specific information

Depending on the type of medical setting, health survey questions may ask patients for specific information regarding their condition. For example, for a wellness consultation, the wellness questionnaire may ask patients about their diet, stress levels, and alcohol consumption. This information can help the medical professional start a discussion and tailor the treatment to the patient’s needs.

Patient feedback

Nabity suggests connecting with patients after a visit to gain insight into how they felt about their experience. “If you keep it short and straightforward, you’ll find that most patients appreciate being polled following a visit,” he says. “Because this isn’t a common strategy used by medical clinics, it will make your clinic stand out as one that values excellent customer service.”

“Furthermore, you could be startled by what you discover,” says Nabity. “According to one survey, 80 percent of senior healthcare professionals said that appointments begin on time, but nearly half of patients disagreed with that assessment. Post-appointment surveys can be eye-opening because medical practitioners and patients have such different perspectives.”

Effective tools for health surveys

The survey tools your medical office uses need to be intuitive for both patients and administrators to use. If you want patients to fill out forms completely and in a timely manner, it’s important to give them an easy way to do that without having to learn how to use software. Plus, you don’t want to give your office staff the additional task of walking patients through the survey.

Jotform offers a number of health survey and medical questionnaire templates that are easy for patients and healthcare administrators alike to use — which can be made HIPAA-compliant by selecting that feature. Here are just a few helpful templates that will work well for various medical settings:

Each template is fully customizable, so you can include the specific questions that will give your team the information they need to provide the best patient care.

Now that you know how to create a healthcare questionnaire and understand which health survey questions to include, you can get started creating your own. If you use intuitive tools and make the questions easy to read and understand, you’ll make the process easy for both your team and your patients.

This article is originally published on May 11, 2022, and updated on May 20, 2022.

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