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Boosting Your Healthcare Reputation in Less Time and with More Patients

by Sarah Hitt

Throughout the course of our “Influencing Patient Experience” blog series, together we have explored:

As we progressed through the series, we observed a few themes emerge:

  1. Patient experience can have an impact on profitability
  2. Employees play an important part in the patient experience
  3. Traditional surveys fulfill a role in determining hospital ratings and Medicare reimbursements, and
  4. It is possible to positively influence a patient’s experience even if they are visiting during a ‘less than positive’ time of their own health experience.

We also touched on the effect that timeliness and the number of responses can have on your results.  In this last blog in the series, we will focus on why these two factors have gained more importance in today’s healthcare environment.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. – Warren Buffett, American businessman” quote=”It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. – Warren Buffett, American businessman”]

Companies like Amazon, Uber, Apple, and Netflix have raised the bar on customers’ expectations. And consumers want the same responsiveness and convenience from healthcare providers, too, making patient experience one of the hottest buzzwords in the healthcare industry today.
Surveys tying hospital reimbursements to patient experience, such as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), have a heightened focus on patients. Yet, if you recall from our first blog, these surveys are delayed in providing actionable insights that healthcare providers can use to make quick and effective changes.  

This point is actually proof as to why we see real-time patient experience monitoring leading the way as one of today’s top trends. While patient experience represents a critical component of a healthcare provider’s ability to attract and retain patients, not all institutions are keeping up.   

Some providers still don’t realize that using traditional survey methods such as HCAHPS and Press Ganey just aren’t enough anymore.  Soliciting and acting upon daily patient feedback about their experience is what lifts post-discharge scores, and, ultimately, has the most impact on acquisition, retention, and profitability.   


Increase the number of responses in less time

There is very little consensus about effective ways to accurately measure patient experience. The current standard is the HCAHPS survey, created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for payment adjustments.

While this is the standard rating survey used for payment purposes, the survey methodology is traditional pen and paper capture via mail or telephone and delivery is post-discharge (anywhere between 48 hours and 6 weeks!) leading to a significant decline in response rates.  Healthcare organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of measuring patient experience yet are now turning towards a more continuous basis with a larger number of patients, so as to have more of an impact on improving those metrics.

What lacks in standard patient feedback methods of hospitals or practices are two essential factors: timeliness and substantial sample size.

[clickToTweet tweet=” What lacks in standard methods of hospitals or practices when it comes to patient feedback are two essential factors: timeliness and substantial sample size.” quote=” What lacks in standard methods of hospitals or practices when it comes to patient feedback are two essential factors: timeliness and substantial sample size.”]

Timeliness matters

Mail-in patient surveys or phone survey interviews are submitted after discharge, and pen-and-paper methods to measure patient experience often require extra steps to enter the data into spreadsheets for analysis. Patching together reports for staff using these traditional methods can take weeks, meaning consuming valuable time that could be spent making improvements. Not only can this lead to value-based purchasing penalties, but could also result in worse patient outcomes.


Sample size matters

The larger the sample size, the more reliable the information and the greater the power for analyzing results to inform improvement. When it comes to HCAHPS average response rate, a quick review of publicly reported data shows it has dropped since the initial program was implemented. The average response rate in 2008 was 33%, compared to 28% in 2016. The decrease in response rate shows that while today’s hospitals are receiving valuable feedback, they are receiving it from an increasingly smaller percentage of their total population.

Fortunately, new technology is available to boost the number of responses received with real-time patient sentiment. Using real-time monitoring of patient satisfaction can provide clinics and hospitals with actionable data that can be used for immediate correction before the patient even leaves the premises.


Act, and react, in real time

Hospitals, clinical laboratories, and other healthcare organizations grow and thrive based on their reputation. For example, HCAHPS results and patient satisfaction star ratings are published on Medicare’s Hospital Compare website, as well as other sites. With real-time feedback, you can positively affect your healthcare reputation, nurture highly-engaged employees, and even discover potential opportunities for quality care improvements.

We saw this first hand in Alverno Laboratories’ presentation New Technologies and the Customer Experience.  With the right combination of tools, in a short amount of time both employees and patient experience improved dramatically.  And all it took was three months and four HappyOrNot Smiley Touch terminals.

With real-time patient feedback analytics, you too can bring your teams together, share information quickly, and take immediate corrective actions.   Address gaps between feedback, response times, and the ability to affect patient experience with speed and volume to positively influence your organization’s reputation.

I would love to hear your feedback about our Healthcare blog series!  I am also available for questions about the information presented in each, or if you are ready to learn more about what you can do to improve your patient experience.

  • Healthcare