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Using Patient Satifaction Survey for Practice Improvement

September 3, 2021 - by Parul Saini, Webmedy team


Patient satisfaction has become an integral part of the current health care delivery system, but not everyone agrees on exactly what or how to measure it. The importance of patient satisfaction is that it helps you identify ways of improving your practice. Healthcare organizations focus on patient satisfaction and they strive to satisfy their patients not only with their health care outcomes but also with the non-clinical aspects of their patient experiences.

Healthcare Providers want to make their patients feel that they are being treated with dignity and that the hospital personnel are making every safe and medically advantageous effort to heal them. For these reasons, health care organizations have long sought to understand the perspectives of their patients through patient satisfaction surveys.

Importance of Patient Satisfaction

Patient Satisfaction is one performance measure of health care quality. Patient satisfaction is largely subjective and depends on patient perceptions relative to their expectations. Because of the individual quality of patient satisfaction, it's difficult to define and measure it. Patient satisfaction surveys act as an important tool to identify gaps, improve quality improvement initiatives, and act as balance measures to ensure changes in care delivery don't negatively impact the patient experience.

When we are talking about patient satisfaction, the industry's gold standard is HCAHPS(Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems). Developed by CMS and the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ), the survey gathers patient experience data to allow objective, meaningful comparisons of hospitals. HCAHPS scores indicate the level of service provided by an organization, contribute to its reputation and have reimbursement implications for providers.

HCAHPS is consistent, validated, and ensures timeliness of measurement (administered no later than 42 days after patient discharge). The HCAHPS survey is administered to a random sample of adult patients between 48 hours and 6 weeks after discharge and asks for patient feedback in a variety of areas:

  • Interaction with clinicians
  • Responsiveness of hospital staff
  • Cleanliness and quietness of the hospital environment
  • Pain management
  • Communication about prescriptions
  • Discharge information

The industry has made leaps and bounds when it comes to surveying design and asking the right questions. But surveys must continue to evolve as populations change. Survey vendors need to keep pace with the changes in technology and healthcare delivery to capture the data needed to make meaningful, measurable improvements.

Why do Patient Satisfaction Surveys matter for Practice Improvement?

Patients surveys don't just improve performance and communication with patients - now they are an essential part of healthcare. Over the past decade, health insurance companies and the government have increasingly relied on customer satisfaction measures to evaluate provider performance. Implementing patient surveys now can help practices prepare to meet future patient satisfaction requirements.

Patient satisfaction surveys capture self-reported patient assessments of multiple touchpoints during their medical care experience. Depending on what aspect of patient satisfaction is being measured, examples may include responsiveness of staff, clinician communication, technical skill, and hospital environment. Whether patients are "satisfied" depends on their expectations about these different touchpoints.

Patient satisfaction surveys can be created and administered in-house, but many hospitals rely on third-party providers with experience in developing, administering, and interpreting statistically valid patient satisfaction surveys. Some hospitals combine the required HCAHPS questions with additional patient-centered questions to gain a comprehensive overview of the patient experience.

Tips for creating your Survey

  • Ask your patients about their top three issues
  • Ask the very important question: Are you satisfied with your doctors?
  • Would you recommend our practice to a family member or friend?
  • Always ask - How can we do better?
  • Use 75/25 ratio: 75 percent should be scale/rating questions, 25 percent open-ended questions
  • First, make a draft of your survey, then send the survey to colleagues and friends outside the practice to get their feedback on clarity and length before sending it to patients.
  • Keep surveys Short and Simple

Summary

Surveys should be part of an ongoing effort to improve patient satisfaction, which means practices must measure the success of improvements. Behind the success of every healthcare organization are the employees who keep a practice running smoothly. Staff members are usually the first point of contact for patients and therefore require several professional skills. Your staff must have a thorough understanding of your services and should be trained to treat each patient with friendliness and compassion. Most of these skills are not just about good hiring practices, but also require practice-specific training.

It's important to conduct surveys on regular basis, follow up and take action to monitor and then measure a patient satisfaction action plan.

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