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Patient Experience Improvement Is Possible With Readily Available Feedback

Genuinely putting people at the heart of health” – Anu Singh and Pritti Mehta


Consumers are certainly winners, enjoying the attention of every company in any Retail, Service, or Transportation industry sector, as businesses realize the importance of customer service and the concept of delivering superb customer experience.

This special attention, however, is not so easily recognizable in the healthcare environment. Hospital “customers” require the same, if not more, personalized attention due to their reasons for being a “customer”, which is most always driven by need.

With the introduction of CAHPS Hospital Survey, healthcare organizations nationwide are eager to improve their patient scores to reap the financial rewards the government gives. The financial incentives are always a good catalyst to thrive for excellence, but in healthcare, the expectation for putting the patient first is most desired.

To continue navigating the improvement process, the entire healthcare organization must adopt a supportive culture lead by strong leadership whereby administrators must be on board and ready to set a platform with visible accountability, staff engagement activities, ongoing feedback, and progress reports. To do so, quality improvement initiatives within and across healthcare organizations require a system to measure operational performance and identify opportunities for improvement.

Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (CAHPS)

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) develop, implement, and administer several different patient experience surveys.  These surveys ask patients (or in some cases their families) about their experiences with, and ratings of, their healthcare providers and plans, including hospitals, home healthcare agencies, doctors, and health and drug plans.  The surveys focus on matters that patients themselves say are important to them and for which patients are the best and/or only source of information.  CMS publicly reports the results of its patient experience surveys, and some surveys affect payments to CMS providers.

Experience is not the same as Satisfaction

According to (source):

“Patient experience surveys sometimes are mistaken for customer satisfaction surveys.  Patient experience surveys focus on how patients experienced or perceived key aspects of their care, not how satisfied they were with their care.  Patient experience surveys focus on asking patients whether or how often they experienced critical aspects of health care, including communication with their doctors, understanding their medication instructions, and the coordination of their healthcare needs. They do not focus on amenities.”

How Effective is Patient Feedback In Your Organization?

To improve CAHPS scores, the organization must establish effective ways to gather patient feedback.

With feedback, leadership will know if implemented changes had an impact and whether to build a compelling case to spread these changes to other clinics, and so the method to collect the feedback needs to be rapid, reliable, verifiable, and achieve significant volumes in order to help reduce costs, eliminate ineffective practices, and measure staff performance.

Point of Service and Patient Exit Surveys

Feedback that is facilitated at the point of the experience is the most valuable, as it provides the opinion of the the patient immediately following the experience and before the patient leaves the facility. There is no need to recall at a later date, as in the case of telephonic surveys and comment cards sent by mail, what the service experience had been like.

Excellent examples of healthcare organizations using the HappyOrNot service for Point of Service and Patient Exit Surveys, and the subsequent organizational benefits, are briefed below.

01 Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories (PAML)

PAML in Spokane, WA, is intent on making the lab experience for patients less painful and stressful. In February 2015 the HappyOrNot Smiley Terminals were installed in patient service centers to help management get hourly, weekly, and monthly result reports to analyze patients’ feedback, observe trends, and spot fluctuations of the day’s best and worst service performance.

The use of analytics is geared toward reducing unneeded test ordering or improving patient experience, turnaround times, and client service.

The patient quality improvement process is more attainable when viewed from the side of the patient. With instant feedback, improvement measures can be introduced immediately to train the staff and alleviate the stress experienced by patients in need of lab services. PAML states that their response rate with the HappyOrNot smileys averages 60%.

Rosalee Allan, senior vice president and chief operations officer at PAML (source):

“This [HappyOrNot service] sends us a dynamic report and we can tell by the hour what’s going on at our patient service center. We can find out what the dissatisfier is at this patient service center between three and five in the afternoon.” 

02 Cerenity Senior Care

To create a welcoming and compassionate community for all involved, Cerenity Senior Care launched the HappyOrNot service in April 2015. The Smiley Terminals are placed in Media, Cafeteria, and Guest Services areas allowing residents to offer their opinion on programs and service offered.

Having the opportunity to be heard and know that their opinion counts does wonders for all residents. The mere presence of the Smiley Terminals boosts morale, lets residents speak their mind about their feelings of living in the facility and the care they receive, and reminds staff to be courteous and respectful.  

The feedback received from residents allows facility administrators to gain valuable to-the-hour analytical insights on the staff performance, effectiveness of daily programs and quality of food and service offered. By monitoring the trend and seeing service fluctuations, management can take immediate action to make improvements and increase residents’ satisfaction level in the facility.

Denise Barnett, CEO, Cerenity Senior Care:

“HappyOrNot has provided us the “just in time” feedback we are looking for from customers and associates.  The system is very easy to set up allowing us to customize the questions and quickly gain feedback in any area of the campus. Clear simple reports provide us the ability to easily interpret data and share reports with all constituents.  People just want to have the opportunity to be heard and several customers and associates have commented on how nice it is that we care enough to ask the questions and provide them the opportunity to give us immediate feedback.  We love this device and would recommend it for any business!”

03 Ochsner Health Systems

Ochsner Health Systems’ commitment to service improvement began with a launch of the HappyOrNot Satisfaction Improvement Service two years ago, initially in a retail setting. After seeing high response rates and gaining a quick way to improve service in the store, Ochsner implemented HappyOrNot into their Pediatric, Infectious Diseases, and Transplant departments to monitor patient satisfaction of several interaction attributes, including staff friendliness, on-time prescription, waiting room efficiency, and hygiene standards.

Specific to Ochsner’s monitoring of hygiene standards, one key determinant to improving compliance rates is to identify that the guidelines followed by healthcare workers and their perceptions of hand hygiene match the patients’ perception. To this, they introduced a study to measure patient satisfaction with Hand Hygiene Compliance to determine if there is a difference in perception.

The study used HappyOrNot Smiley Terminals positioned by the exit of each Pediatric, Infectious Diseases, and Transplant departments prompting patients to indicate their satisfaction with their healthcare provider’s hand hygiene standards.

The Infectious Disease Department proudly reports:

“The HappyOrNot Service proved to be an effective method in engaging a significant proportion of patients’ feedback on the hand hygiene. That the satisfaction rates were very high indicates a high level of confidence in our healthcare providers in all three clinics at Ochsner Health Systems to comply with hand hygiene protocol.”

Happy Patients + Happy Nurses = Successful Patient-Centered Healthcare Organization

One of the key motivating factors behind the success of a healthcare organization is that the better patients feel emotionally, the faster they will heal physically. Positive patient and visitor experiences and improved performance serves to boost an organization’s image of a patient-centered one. Patients will notice an organization that cares about the community it serves. To enhance and improve patient experiences, well-being, and quality of care, the organization must engage with and care for the opinions of all people involved – patients, visitors, and staff.


Do you have happy patients? HappyOrNot can tell you, every day!

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30 March 2016

We will have our first guest blog by CCXP professional Annette Franz who will discuss how the following areas help companies to enhance their Customer Experience improvement process:

  • Customer-Centric Culture
  • Voice of the Customer, Customer Insight, and Understanding
  • Organizational Adoption and Accountability
  • Customer Experience Strategy
  • Experience Design, Improvement, and Innovation
  • Metrics, Measurement, and ROI

So don’t miss out on this great upcoming piece!

  • Healthcare