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Using surveys at assisted living facilities to increase quality of care

There are currently 735,000 men and women residing in assisted living housing in America.[1] Over the next 20 years, as baby boomers continue to age and leave the workforce in droves, the number of assisted living residents will spike. Recent questions surrounding patient safety and the quality of care administered at these facilities have been raised in the media, most recently highlighted by an investigative series done by PBS’s Frontline.

A large concern surrounding the problem of patient safety at these facilities is “[t]oo often, families don’t have the information they need to protect their loved ones residing in assisted living facilities,”[2] says National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers’ President, Julie Gray.  One of the best ways for facilities to get that information into the hands of those families is through measuring their own quality of care and resident satisfaction. The best way to measure care and patient satisfaction is by surveying residents, employees, and families.

Pioneer Network – a non-profit organization which advocates for positive change in eldercare – released a helpful guide outlining what families should look for when searching for the right assisted living facility.[3] The guide is not only extremely helpful to families looking for the right facility, but it is also helpful for the facilities themselves. It serves as a reminder of the importance of constantly evaluating the care an assisted living facility provides. The guide suggests families ask specific questions about “person-directed care and what the assisted living community is doing, if anything, with person-directed care.” The guide lists specific questions to ask: how do you welcome a new resident?; do you measure resident satisfaction each year?; do you provide training for your staff on how to provide person-directed care?; etc. As obvious as it may seem, care facilities should be asking themselves the same questions about the care they provide. Further, the guide suggests that facilities survey family members of the individual residing at the facility.

Assisted living facilities will increase their quality of care and patient satisfaction by asking their residents, employees, families, and themselves, the right questions. The best way to ask and answer the important and specific questions put forth above is through custom tailored surveys. Facilities are in the best position to know which questions to ask. When facilities have the ability to custom tailor their own surveys to ask those specific questions and to freely edit those surveys, they put themselves in a position to gather more accurate and valuable data.

Feel free to contact AutoData to find out how we can help assisted living facilities create custom tailored paper and web surveys to  improve your care, and most importantly, improve the overall quality of life for your residents.



[1] “New Survey from National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers Offers a Roadmap to Protect Growing Number of Seniors http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/9/prweb11083496.htm

[2] See id.

Businesses are using employee wellness to address rising healthcare costs

The unsustainable costs associated with healthcare have been part of an ongoing conversation in our country for the past decade or so. Although the discussion about our country’s healthcare has been well documented and debated it feels that little progress has been made. The U.S. spends $2.8 trillion on healthcare annually – more than any other country – yet rank 37th in world health systems, according to the World Health Organization. Further, as Dr. Nick Baird of U.S. Healthiest states, “unhealthy behaviors drive 70% of preventable healthcare spending.” As healthcare costs rise at alarming rates, individuals and the businesses that provide their health insurance are feeling the pain, for lack of a better term.  How do we as a nation address the unhealthy behaviors and the decisions behind those behaviors contributing to unsustainable costs?

This is where organizations such as U.S. Healthiest come into play. U.S. healthiest is a non-profit, public-private partnership formed to address these market pressures by recognizing the value of healthy employees through workplace engagement and well-being. U.S. Healthiest has created an accreditation system –comparable to LEED accreditation for green buildings – to address worksite health and wellness. The accreditation system uses standardized scores and benchmarking to encourage businesses to embrace continuous workplace health improvement. When businesses commit to their employees’ health through wellness programs, they begin to see an increase in productivity and work ethic, ultimately translating into increased revenue. A focus on employee wellness also leads to lower healthcare costs for the company. The incentives for businesses to encourage their employees’ health are clear. So far, companies such as Target, Intel, and ING have all signed up for the accreditation process.

U.S. Healthiest and organizations like U.S. Healthiest are hoping to change individual employee’s behaviors by leveraging business incentives and in turn, taking our nation’s healthcare problem head-on. So far, the numbers don’t lie:

“A 2010 analysis of 36 studies that looked at corporate wellness programs suggested they can be effective. Researchers calculated that employers saved $6 for every $1 spent: $3.27 saved in medical costs and an additional $2.73 gained due to reduced absenteeism. An earlier analysis had found that such programs reduced sick leave, health plan costs, worker compensation and disability costs by about 25%.” (see link below)

Whether it’s a massive corporation such as Target or a local small business, companies benefit from investing in employee wellness, and in turn, hopefully our country will benefit as well.

An important element of adhering to workplace health improvement and U.S. Healthiest’s accreditation process is measuring employee’s health, most commonly through an HA (health assessment). AutoData’s software simplifies the process of measuring employee wellness with its survey creation software. By offering a combination of paper and web surveys, using our software will increase a company’s response rates and employee engagement. AutoData embraces the opportunity to assist companies in improving their top and bottom lines, but most importantly, the opportunity to help businesses improve our nation’s healthcare.

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/sep/15/opinion/la-oe-parikh-employee-wellness-programs-20130912

The New Importance of Measuring Patient Care

Another day, another article on the importance of measuring patient care in a post-Affordable Care Act world (It pays for hospitals to keep patients happy, Seattle Times, see link below).

As discussed in our last post, federal reimbursements are being tied not only to surveys that measure a patient’s care, but also their experience. In an attempt to improve the patient’s experience, everything from a patient’s overall care to hospital noise and cleanliness are measured. The better the patient’s experience, the more money is received in reimbursements, or so the logic goes.

But measuring specific aspects of patient care is easier said than done. For example, perhaps your hospital implements – or contracts someone to implement – your HCAHPS surveys. Or perhaps the same goes for your AHRQ Medical Office Survey. Or perhaps the same goes for any other myriad of standardized surveys your hospital might use. While administering all of those different surveys is important, there are two inherent problems: 1) too many moving parts when trying to implement multiple different surveys all collecting different kinds of data 2) the standardized surveys don’t necessarily cover all of the topics you wish to measure (i.e. hospital noise and cleanliness).

The severity of the first problem depends on the hospital’s processes. If you’re reading this, you’re likely well aware of the issues that arise in administering multiple standardized surveys. For example, dealing with third party contractors who write, administer, and report on different surveys creates red tape and removes the care provider further away from the process of measuring care. Also, the data collected from all these different surveys is unorganized, hard to manage, and doesn’t flow.

Second, the standardized surveys don’t allow you the flexibility to ask the questions you want to ask. As the Seattle Times article suggests, hospitals need the ability to measure all sorts of different patient attitudes and experiences; how the hospital communicates to the patient, how the hospital serves the patient, how they address the patient’s pain, and so on.

Because of these two problems, standardized surveys and the third party vendors who administer them can’t touch on the important level of detail needed to ask the right questions. The measurement of care should be administered by those closest to the patients, the ones providing the care.

So what am I getting at?

The ability to custom tailor surveys so that every detail about a patient’s experience is measured. The flexibility and autonomy necessary to create surveys that ask the questions your organization wants to ask. The ability to have all of your data in one spot. This is what AutoData does for its customers. AutoData’s software gives you the in-house tools to be in full control of your surveys and your data, giving you the ability to better measure your care and improve your care.

Please contact us for more information on how we can help.

 

(Seattle Times article below)

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2021593747_healthpatientsxml.html

Federal Payments For Hospitals Tied To Surveys

“Under the national healthcare overhaul, patient experiences matter. Federal payments are being tied to surveys that gauge patient attitudes about such things as a hospital’s noise and cleanliness, communication and pain management.” – LA Times, “Healthcare overhaul leads hospitals to focus on patient satisfaction” (see link below for full article)

The importance of providing patients with quality care is not a new idea in the healthcare world. However, the importance of measuring a patient’s quality of care is becoming more and more apparent under the Affordable Care Act – as the quote above suggests.

It’s pretty simple, really: “If patients are happy, hospitals get more money. If they aren’t, hospitals get less.” Ultimately, positive patient experiences effect a hospital’s bottom line. Which begs the question, how are you measuring patient care? And perhaps more importantly, what are you doing with the data you collect?

Not only are we seeing an increase in attention paid to measuring care due to the Affordable Care Act, but we’re also seeing an increase in competition for new patients between hospitals.

“Competition is partly responsible for the transformation. People have access to hospital patient satisfaction and quality scores, empowering them to make informed choices about where to seek care. Public hospitals, particularly, risk losing large numbers of newly insured patients.”

Due in part to websites such as Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, etc., consumers now rely on customer experience reviews more than ever. But using the internet for reviews doesn’t just apply to restaurants and hotels anymore. Patients are becoming informed consumers when deciding which hospital to choose. Collecting your patient’s satisfaction is one important step, but getting that information in the hands of future patients is another.

AutoData has helped thousands of hospitals collect and analyze patient data for 20 years. We are committed to understanding the best practices of measuring patient care in a constantly changing industry. Our software gives your organization the in-house tools to capture patient satisfaction and report on the data collected.

Measuring and collecting patients satisfaction has never been more important. Is your current process adequate?

 

(LA Times story quoted in the post: http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-76738509/)

 

ExpertScan vs. Scannable Office: Part 2 – Reporting the data

 

In a prior post, we briefly explained the differences in creating forms with our two main survey scanning solutions – Scannable Office and ExpertScan. In this post, we will explain the other main difference between the two products: reporting the data.

An important reason customers choose to use our software is to clearly understand the data they collect. Whether it’s measuring patient care or customer experience, the data doesn’t mean much if you don’t understand it or if you can’t convey it clearly to others. In general, it’s much easier to convey raw data through visuals (bar graphs, pie charts, line graphs, etc.). This is where ExpertScan comes in handy.

ExpertScan has automatic reporting built into the software. When you scan in your form or survey, the software creates a handful of different reports on the data automatically. With the click of a mouse, a window pops up with a question-by-question breakdown and option to view the data in bar graphs, pie charts, trend analysis, etc.. ExpertScan also has tabulation rules that allow you to parse out certain types of data. For example, if you have a patient satisfaction survey which is used in multiple hospitals, ExpertScan’s reporting allows you to see the differences, question-by-question, between those different hospitals or even the different doctors. These reports can be easily converted to PDF files and disseminated to appropriate personnel. Further, all of the raw data scanned into your computer also gets saved in a separate Microsoft Access database.

While Scannable Office offers more options in form creation, it does not offer the automatic reporting features that ExpertScan has. With Scannable Office, the data can be uploaded directly to any ODBC compliant database – Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, MySQL, Oracle, Filemaker Pro, etc. Once in the database, one’s options to manipulate and report on the data are endless. However, the options are limited to the user’s experience working with any of the aforementioned databases.

Customers who come from smaller organizations or have less experience working in ODBC compliant databases love the automatic reporting ExpertScan provides. Customers who work in large institutions sometimes prefer Scannable Office because they have the personnel and resources to do much more analysis with the data in ODBC compliant databases.

So there you have it: A brief description on the differences in reporting your data (and previously – from creation). As stated, these are the two most distinct differences between ExpertScan and Scannable Office. But we’d love to chat with you about further nuances between the two! Feel free to contact us directly at any time!

ExpertScan vs. Scannanble Office – Form Creation

A common request we get from potential customers is to explain the differences between our two main form scanning software solutions – ExpertScan and Scannable Office. Obviously, in every instance, we happily oblige the customer and explain the nuances and endless beauty of our products. Sorry, I got a little carried away there.

However, we figured it might also be helpful to write down the differences in a blog post. So, here we are.

Trying to decide between ExpertScan and Scannable Office is dependent upon a number of different factors (in which we explore in future blog posts) but the most notable difference is in the form creation process.

Scannable Office essentially creates a toolbar that exists in your Microsoft Word, which is where you create your survey or form. In other words, anything you can create using Microsoft Word – multiple columns, tables, etc. – you can incorporate into your scannable form or survey. However, you are responsible for the formatting of the questions and text, which can be a difficult process at first.

Customers who have more complex forms, longer forms, and a general desire for more flexibility in designing forms, usually turn to Scannable Office for help.

ExpertScan exists completely separate of Microsoft Word. When ExpertScan is opened on your computer, a text box appears. The text box is where you will create your form. Unlike with Scannable Office, the questions and text you create are automatically formatted. This makes form creation much easier with ExpertScan, but gives you fewer options in the overall design of the form.

Customers who have simple, straight forward, and shorter surveys or forms usually turn to ExpertScan for help.

The decision, at least as it’s related to form creation, becomes simplicity and ease versus flexibility and design.

Hopefully this post successfully breaks down the main differences in form creation between the two software solutions. Another big difference between the two is in the reporting of the data. But that, my friends, is a discussion for another blog post. Until then, feel free to contact us with any questions you have!

The Importance of Patient Satisfaction Surveys

We could write blog after blog on the importance of patient satisfaction surveys to healthcare providers and organizations, but it might not mean a whole lot coming from us.  Instead, we’ve collected some worthwhile articles for you to check out written by the experts.

Six Characteristics of High-Performing Healthcare Organizations – highlights some of the differences in results throughout different types of surveys, including the HCAHPS.

http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/6-characteristics-of-high-performing-healthcare-organizations.html

 

Candid Comments Make HCAHPS Results Even More Valuable – discusses the value of open-ended patient comments (something that runs seamlessly with our software).

http://blog.healthstream.com/blog/bid/108113/Candid-Comments-Make-HCAHPS-Results-Even-More-Valuable

 

HCAHPS Focus: 3 Ways HR Can Impact the “Always” Response

http://www.hireright.com/blog/2012/08/hcahps-focus-3-ways-hr-can-impact-the-always-response/

 

Oaklawn gets high scores in patient satisfaction surveys

http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/article/20120816/NEWS01/308160011/Oaklawn-gets-high-scores-patient-satisfaction-survey?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFrontpage&nclick_check=1

 

As you can see, don’t just take our word for it.

Find out how AutoData’s software can help improve your organization’s patient survey process and more importantly,  save your organization money.

NetE-nable Goes Mobile on Tablets

A tablet displaying a NetE-nable survey in an office

Tablets on the Rise

There’s no use denying it, tablet use is on the rise.  Whether it’s for personal use or business reasons, many of our customers and readers use them (you may even be reading this blog on your tablet).  Here at AutoData, we have noticed an increase in the amount of questions from customers regarding a survey solution for tablets and mobile devices.  The solution?  NetE-nable: the cloud-serviced web add-on to ExpertScan.

Tablets are quickly becoming more than just a novelty; they’re gaining popularity among users seeking more portability, ease of use, and simplicity over their current computer experience.  Whether you need to catch up on emails, read the latest news in your industry, or take meeting minutes, tablets are proving to be more and more valuable in the business world.
NetE-nable survey displayed on a tabletWith countless businesses capturing  data (whether it is a patient satisfaction survey, a safety practices/inspections form, a teacher evaluation, etc.), being able to use a tablet has many benefits over a traditional paper survey or form:

  • Eliminate scanning – By using the web for surveys you’re able to rid yourself of messy paper.  You also can avoid trying to decipher sloppy handwriting altogether
  • Instant data collection – The second the “Submit” button is clicked, data is populated and ready to be used and reported on.  No waiting around to go through the scanning process
  • Ease of access – Wherever you have a tablet (or web browser with internet connection) there you will also have access to your survey.  No more waiting for your survey to be printed or copied, forgetting them on your desk, or dealing with lost or out of order surveys

Tablet and Mobile Device Survey Solution

With our cloud-serviced web add-on, NetE-nable, AutoData has the solution to gathering data via tablets.  As pictured above, tablets using a NetE-nabled physician satisfaction survey can be filled out and instantly deliver data on tablets with a web browser and an internet connection.

Since we here at AutoData still strongly believe that paper surveys will always have a place in data collection, we offer the combination of both paper and web surveys into one database.  This is what separates us from the rest.  No need to give yourself (or your IT department) more Access/Excel work dealing with having separate databases.  AutoData provides you with the all-in-one solution.

NetE-nable survey displayed on a mobile phone

Have a device with a web browser and internet connection?  A NetE-nable survey will work!  Try out a sample survey on your device and tell us what you think.

Not an ExpertScan user?  Request a demo of our software as well as a live, screen sharing demonstration.  Watch the Learning Center’s ExpertScan with NetE-nable intro video for another look at our software.

 

Already using ExpertScan?  Contact us and request a free, 14-day trial of NetE-nable.

Already using NetE-nable?  Check out some tips and tricks from a previous blog post.

Automation in Healthcare: How AutoData’s software cuts health care costs

 
“Automation, either full or partial, of various jobs can be a productive tool for healthcare organizations looking to cut costs, and proven solutions and technology are enticing.”

 The above quote is from a recent Health Leaders article titled, “Automation and the Healthcare Cost Curve.” The quote is as true as it is simple: save labor, save money. According to the article, labor costs are ranked as the No. 1 cost driver by 33% of senior health leaders, while 59% put it in the top three cost drivers. The unsustainable rising costs of health care have the industry looking to innovate to drive down costs while at the same time maintaining, or better yet, increasing efficiency. As the article points out, an underrepresented area of innovation in the healthcare industry is automation.

 “. . . a first step for many hospital senior leaders is placing an emphasis on labor-saving technology and techniques.” 

 This is where AutoData can help. Whether utilizing a simple form designed to collect patient information or a complicated study on bone density, the healthcare industry still heavily relies on the use of paper. AutoData’s software provides organizations the opportunity to scan paper forms into a computer where the information is then automatically placed into an Access database. In other words, AutoData’s software eliminates manual data entry. When manual entry is eliminated, labor costs are saved and efficiency is improved. Lower costs and higher efficiency is a goal every healthcare organization should try to achieve  – a goal in which AutoData has been helping healthcare organizations achieve for 20 years.

Below is a link to the full article:

http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/page-1/LED-279485/Automation-and-the-Healthcare-Cost-Curve