Embrace Patient Surveys to Improve Care

Posted on Wed, Mar 22, 2017
Embrace Patient Surveys to Improve Care

By Ginger Wirth, RN

We live in a world where surveys surround us. You can’t go to a restaurant, big box store or even a gas station where there isn’t a survey attached to a visit. It has become a reality of the times.

Cashiers at retail stores circle the survey link on the bottom of the register receipts and directly ask us to take time to fill out the survey. And, don’t forget, if you register, you could win a $500 gift card!

Healthcare has been surveying its patients forever, and unbeknownst to the everyday consumer, it’s tied to reimbursement for hospitals and now providers. We rarely mention to patients that they are likely to get a survey on discharge. However, we should encourage everyone on the care team to tell patients and families that there is a survey, and that we will use any and all feedback that is shared to improve care. This feedback is truly a gift, even if it is negative or points out ways we have failed in our mission.

We also have an opportunity to educate our providers and the care team about what the surveys are asking. Do you know what questions are on the HCAHPS survey? Do you know the methodology for selecting who receives a survey? Which patients are given the ED survey? Who gets excluded? Which vendor your facility or organization uses to administer the survey? These are all important answers that should be provided to your care team. If you’re working in a hospital setting and can’t answer these questions, you need to do a bit of studying. Here’s a resource for more information.

There’s nothing to say we can’t make this an open book test. We should ensure that we know the questions on the survey so that we can help educate our patients and families. As healthcare providers, we only get “credit” for those top box results; that is to say the “Very Good” and “9/10” scores. Some providers may not even be aware of that simple fact.

Isn’t it important that we give credence to a survey related to the healthcare we are providing? Surveys and other mechanisms for providing feedback are a sign of our times. Let’s leverage that culture to make the care that we are delivering the best it possibly can be. Let’s use the survey to not only improve, but to showcase the great care we are providing.

Ginger Wirth, RN

Ginger Wirth, RN, joined EmCare in 2013 as a Divisional Director of Clinical Services for the Alliance Group. Her goal is to make positive changes in healthcare by helping others focus on quality, excellence, and the overall patient experience. Wirth regards her role as Director of Clinical Services as the ideal opportunity to partner with nursing, physician and facility leaders to make positive changes to the entire patient care experience. Her 20-plus year nursing career has been dedicated to quality and excellence, promoting overall positive outcomes and safety for patients.

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