For Price, standardized surveys don’t provide enough information or the opportunity to drill down further and ask follow-up questions. When patients are invited in, “they realize this organization really cares about them and will pass the information on to others. There’s a positive spin effect.”
Like OHSU, Georgia Regents Health System also brings patients in for a dialogue, but typically to discuss major initiatives such as equipment purchases and changes in interior design, said James V. Rawson, MD, chairman of radiology at Georgia.
Rather than invite patients at random, Georgia carefully selects its “patient advisors” based on their ability to remain open-minded and understand people have different needs. In the end, all patients benefit when decisions are based on input from patients. As Rawson explained, “having a good experience is part of the healing process.”
More than 200 patients or family members serve as advisors, selected from physician and staff recommendations. Most of the advisors have expressed concerns about the service they have received. As new patients are identified, they are added to the group, Rawson said. Some advisors work on a specific project, while others collaborate in multiple areas based on interest and availability.
Georgia also keeps tabs on patient satisfaction through surveys standardized for most hospitals through the CMS. These surveys, known as HCAHPS, or Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, can be conducted by mail, telephone or voice response and asks patients to rate their experiences on topics including communication with healthcare providers, pain management, hospital cleanliness and discharge information.
CMS also requires patient satisfaction surveys for physicians interested in participating in the Maintenance of Certification Physician Quality Reporting System, which can yield a 0.5 percent incentive pay.
Rawson explained that in addition to scanning all of the HCAHPS surveys for information specific to radiology, his department also is considering offering a tablet in waiting rooms to capture immediate impressions.
“You get more specific information right away,” he said, rather than having to look back and put the comment into context.
Using the data for change
On-the-spot comments from patients and staff also can be instructive and prompt changes that directly benefit patients.
At OHSU, Dianna Bardo, MD, associate professor of pediatrics in the divisions of Diagnostic Radiology and Cardiovascular Medicine, said she was hearing from nurses in interventional radiology that patients were nervous about upcoming examinations and that they were not able to help them. Now physicians visit with the patients before the exams to answer questions and try to be reassuring. “So that’s a practice change for us,” she said.