According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in 2018, a total of 3.8 million patients were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, with an average readmission rate of 14 percent and an average readmission cost of $15,200, resulting in a total readmission cost of over $57B. For hospital administrators, it’s important to find ways to mitigate readmissions in part because Medicare payments are tied to readmittance rates. But, what’s more important than Medicare payments and facility revenue, is the health of your patients. Patient-first-focused administrators use all the tools in their arsenal to make sure patients are pleased with their experience, and discovering how patients feel about their stay begins with discovery and understanding.
In this blog post, we’ll explore six reasons post-visit patient-satisfaction surveys can help improve your patient outcomes.
1. Improve patient experience
The patient experience is a hot topic in healthcare. As hospital systems seek to improve their quality scores, patient satisfaction has become a key measure.
There are many ways to improve the patient experience, but one of the best approaches is to ask patients for feedback directly. A patient survey, like the HCAHPS survey, is the best way to find out what’s really happening on the ground and uncover areas for improvement. And while the HCAPHS survey is comprehensive, offering patient satisfaction surveys in a format that makes responding easy is an essential element of customer service.
2. To learn about your process and procedures
The patient experience is a key factor in how patients view the quality of their care. As a result, healthcare organizations increasingly use patient satisfaction surveys to capture patients’ experiences and measure the quality of care they receive.
Patient satisfaction surveys can help you gauge:
- What your patients think about the overall quality of your services
- How satisfied your patients are with individual aspects of their care, such as the waiting room, exam rooms and wait times
- Your patients’ experiences with your staff, from registration to nurses, doctors and discharge
- Whether your patients would recommend your organization to others
- Patient satisfaction surveys can also provide insight into problems that may affect patient safety, such as cleanliness issues or inconsistent processes.
Patient satisfaction surveys help you improve outcomes so, at Notivate Health, we work to ensure patient response rates are as high as possible. Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) is a patient experience survey program that helps connect the dots from patient feedback to care improvements, communication and recommendations. CAHPS measures of patient experience sometimes have poor response rates, averaging from 27%-32%, depending on various factors.
But when you use digital surveys in place of traditional paper forms, you not only save on paper and postage costs, your patients will also respond to the survey much more quickly than they would a conventional mailed questionnaire. Notivate Health’s platform sees response rates higher than standard HCAPHS response rates. That means you can act on the results before issues become more significant problems. Also, Notivate Health’s HIPAA-compliant patient survey platform delivers results in an easy-to-read dashboard. It can push customer complaints to a dedicated member of your staff for an immediate response, often alleviating concerns and, in some cases, reducing readmissions.
3. Follow up on negative reactions
Survey data can help you notice trends in your service (either good or bad) and get in front of negative sentiments before they have a detrimental affect your healthcare organization. However, surveys are only effective if they are conducted on an ongoing basis – not just once per year or every few years.
The survey can also identify trends among your patient base. For example, suppose many patients complained about a lack of communication regarding scheduling appointments or getting prescriptions filled. In that case, you can use this data to implement new policies and procedures that will improve the experience and satisfaction of your patients in these areas.
Finally, patient surveys can help you gauge when people may start talking poorly about your organization on social media or third-party review sites. If several patients have had poor experiences with a particular employee or office location, you could be headed for trouble. The survey can give you insight into potential problems so you can address them before they begin to negatively impact your organization’s reputation and revenue.
4. Shift focus from the quantity of errors to their impact on patients
The relationship between patient safety and patient satisfaction has been a subject of debate in the health care industry for decades. At the end of the day, whether your facility measures up on patient safety should be a separate issue from whether patients are satisfied with their overall experience. However, there is evidence that the two are related. Patient experience surveys were designed to capture patients’ subjective, first-hand experiences, often revealing their feelings about patient safety and clinical quality.
Several studies have shown that as many as half of all adverse events in hospitals are caused by errors in communication and coordination among providers, between providers and patients and among caregivers and families. These errors can significantly impact patient satisfaction levels, particularly when patients feel like they were not given adequate information about their treatment plan or were not involved in decisions about their care. Patients’ perceptions of communication problems can negatively affect satisfaction even when no actual errors occurred. While patient satisfaction surveys are widely used at U.S. hospitals, they typically don’t ask about medical mistakes or even communication with doctors and nurses. Adding such questions can help shift the focus from the number of errors to their impact on patients.
5. Make payment easier
Patient satisfaction surveys reveal that you care about your patients and have helped them feel important by listening to their concerns. When patients are happy and satisfied, they’re more inclined to pay their bills. A study by Connance, now Wayfair, found 74 percent of satisfied patients paid their medical bills in full, compared to 33 percent of their lesser satisfied counterparts.
What’s more, patients may share their financial struggles or desires with you. We’ve learned that many providers offer payment plans, credit lines, and online bill pay but fail to communicate these options to their patient base, which frustrates their patients. And if you’re not offering the right mix of payment options to the right patients in the right way, then you’re probably leaving money on the table – a lot of it.
6. Receive valuable data when you get your first complaint
Patient satisfaction surveys are a valuable source of customer feedback. These surveys are a great way to give patients a voice. They can help maintain compliance with The Joint Commission’s (TJC) standards for the ambulatory surgery center (ASC) setting, which require that “the organization identifies the needs of the patient population served and assesses the extent to which it meets those needs.” Hospitals need to conduct an organizational assessment that measures baseline performance on specific issues to know where improvement might be necessary, where gaps in competence or practice exist, and how to tailor improvement interventions in light of such information.
Patient satisfaction surveys can help mitigate complaints because you have a valuable data set to compare complaints against one another. They can also provide insight into possible sources of patient dissatisfaction before patients lodge formal grievances.
One way to remind yourself of the results you want to achieve is through patient satisfaction surveys. These feedback forms provide a valuable opportunity to check on the quality of your patient care while also ensuring that your staff is on the same page, working toward the same goals.
Patient satisfaction surveys are an effective method of healthcare improvement, and they’re here to stay. So, if you’ve been putting off starting your surveys, or think they are too expensive and time-consuming to do, now’s the time to make it happen. Remember that the right survey tool can help you customize a survey for virtually every type of question or need you may have. The results can provide valuable feedback about how well your organization is doing at delivering outstanding patient care. And that’s something no hospital wants to be without.
If you’re interested in easily integrating patient satisfaction surveys with your EHR system for immediate and actionable patient feedback, reach out to Notivate Health for a short demo. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to deliver surveys at scale, with very little IT integration needed.