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Is Patient Satisfaction Overrated?

A recent article on Forbes.com asked an interesting question: is patient satisfaction overrated? The question is an important one and warrants more discussion. The article (found here) uses Dr. House, the rude but extremely effective fictional doctor from the Fox television series “House,” to analogize that perhaps patient satisfaction doesn’t always equal quality health care. The author – Steven Salzberg – attempts to make the point that while Dr. House is abrasive and his patients do not have the best experience, they do receive the best care. Salzberg writes that even though large scale reforms in healthcare are pushing the importance of patient satisfaction, better patient satisfaction scores are not necessarily correlated with better care. Essentially, instead of giving patients what they want, doctors should give them what they need. Salzberg doesn’t just use the “House” analogy; he cites a study that shows higher patient satisfaction rates being tied to higher costs and higher death rates.

AutoData agrees with some of the author’s points and disagrees with others. AutoData couldn’t agree more with the premise that doctors must give their patients what they need as opposed to simply what they want. And we are not disputing the study Salzberg cites (though we’re unsure of the context and specifics of the study). However, Salzberg asserts that measuring patient satisfaction in general is the overall problem; AutoData believes the problem is in how patient satisfaction is measured.

“For patients who think a nice doctor is a good doctor, this might come as very disappointing news,” writes Salzberg. If surveys are asking patients questions like, “Was your doctor nice?” or “Did they communicate well with you?” or “Did you have a nice time?”, of course these metrics are hollow and should not be correlated with better care. But that doesn’t mean patient satisfaction doesn’t work, it means the provider of care must change how and what to measure. In other words, identify the data that will lead to better care and measure for that. Collecting data which shows that the care administered was superior will not always be the same as the data that shows the patient had a good time (AutoData discusses this in a post about the differences between patient experience and patient satisfaction here).

Salzberg also touched on the infamous standardized hospital survey, HCAHPS. He writes that Dr. House would fail this survey with flying colors, which is probably true. A one-size-fits-all, nationally standardized survey doesn’t make sense to us either. Hospitals and health clinics operate under different circumstances and contexts serving different demographics; measuring them against each other under one standardized survey is asinine. Hospitals have different objectives, goals, and ideas about delivering quality care, so why limit the ways they measure satisfaction and experience? Let the hospitals be in charge of the data they collect, ultimately it will lead to their success or their demise. The most encouraging trend AutoData has seen over the last 4 years is the consumeraztion of health care (AutoData wrote about it here). Due to advances in technology and the internet, healthcare consumers have been given a more powerful voice and as a consequence will continue to have more choices in care providers, ultimately forcing health systems to provide higher quality care. Therefore, it’s arguably more important than ever for health systems to measure patient satisfaction and experience. If the health system effectively listens to their patients through patient experience measurements, they can improve their service, advertise their superior service, and ultimately grow.

Salzberg’s article narrowly misses the point. It isn’t that patient satisfaction is overrated or unnecessary, but health systems must adapt to measure and collect the right kind of data. The right kind of data is data that will improve their care, not data that assesses whether a doctor is nice. When the right kind of data is measured and collected they can use it to persuade potential consumers to choose them as their provider of care. In that case, measuring the right kind of patient satisfaction is grossly underrated.

Form Scanning Software Will Help Hospital Scribes (and generate more revenue)

The efficient use of a simple solution to a big problem helped make Allina Health an extra $205,000 last year.

As technology advances in health care seek to drive down costs and improve overall efficiency, many doctors have felt frustration in the learning of new technological processes and systems. One such technological change causing issues is the process of converting to electronic-medical-record systems. Katharine Grayson of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal recently wrote an article about how Allina dealt with doctors frustrated with the amount of time spent in front of computers as opposed to patients.

The article (found here) follows Allina Health cardiologist Dr. Alan Bank and his simple solution to the problem of spending too much time in front of a computer. “I didn’t feel like I could focus on the patient. I felt like I was duplicating things. It just seemed like a lot of excessive data entry,” Dr. Bank told Grayson. Dr. Bank’s answer was simple: scribes. After Dr. Bank saw emergency room doctors using scribes, he thought he should do the same for cardiologists. The scribes – trained medical personnel who specialize in charting physician-patient encounters during medical exams – joined the doctors during patient visits to take notes and enter data.

Dr. Bank studied the results and noted that over the course of 65 clinic hours, doctors with scribes saw 210 patients while doctors without scribes saw 129. The difference in additional number of patients visited translated into a significant difference in additional revenue for Allina – roughly $205,000. One very important detail of the study is that the patients with scribes were at least as satisfied with their experience as those who didn’t have scribes. Although Dr. Bank’s solution was extremely simple, it proved extremely successful. He now sees 30% more patients then he used to yet feels less overwhelmed.

However, we can’t help but think about the scribes, who are most likely in charge of manually entering all of that data now. If only there was a way in which they could collect patient data and scan it into a computer that automatically enters it into a database. That would improve efficiency and allow scribes to see more patients with their doctors, which in turn, creates more revenue for (enter your hospital name here). Now, imagine if  you could find software that could do that . . . (hint: www.autodata.com).

How To Improve Survey Response Rates In Healthcare

Combining Web-Based and Mail Surveys Improves Response Rates

A joint effort between three separate Practice Based Research Networks (PBRNs) conducted a study that found combining web-based and paper surveys improves the rate for total survey responses. Using surveys in healthcare – whether for research, patient satisfaction, measuring quality of care, etc. – is a common practice and in the internet age, conventional wisdom suggests that web-based survey tools provide a superior alternative to paper based surveys. The conventional wisdom is incorrect, however.

The study was premised upon the fact that, regardless of the method or technology used in conducting research or gathering data, an adequate response rate is critical to the validity of any and all survey findings. The study (which can be read in full here) analyzed response rates from a survey implemented across 3 PBRNs which initially utilized electronic surveys but followed-up with paper surveys. Despite multiple (5) solicitations to respondents to take the electronic survey, the study found that not only were paper responses nearly one quarter of all responses, but that many responded via paper survey who would not have responded otherwise.

“Our results suggest there is still an important role for the use of paper-based methods in PBRN survey research. Both hard copy and electronic survey collection methods may be required to enhance clinician response rates.”

The study’s results make clear that the most effective way to conduct survey based research is by combining both paper and web based survey tools.

AutoData offers one of the very few solutions on the market that combines both paper and web surveys. In most cases, if an organization wants to combine paper and web-based surveys, they have to rely on separate products from separate companies, which can create more problems than it solves. From survey creation to storing and reporting on the data, AutoData’s software provides a streamlined, easy-to-use process that seamlessly combines all data collected from both paper and web into one database.

If improving survey response rates is your organization’s goal, then AutoData is your solution.

Employee Engagement: 70% of workers in the U.S. are unengaged

AutoData tries to write posts on many different worthwhile topics that our users and potential users find valuable. One topic we haven’t written about is the importance of employee engagement.

An “engaged employee” is one who is fully involved in and enthusiastic about their work. This allows them to act in a way that furthers their organization’s interests. In other words, an organization with high employee engagement will be a successful organization. Achieving high employee engagement is no easy task, however.

In fact, according to a State of the American Workplace report, 70% of American workers don’t like their job. A whopping 70%!

A recent article in Forbes wrote about the importance of engaged employees:

“Employees engaged in their work are likely to be motivated, to remain committed to their employer and to stay focused on achieving business goals and driving the organizations future. Disengaged employees can drag down others and impact everything from customer service to sales, quality, productivity, retention and other critical areas.”

It’s clear that employee engagement is an integral part of maximizing the value an organization provides. Thus, organizations should ask themselves two questions about employee engagement: what engages employees? How do I know they’re engaged?

The Forbes article discusses a number of great ways to answer the first question (full article found here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sylviavorhausersmith/2013/08/14/how-the-best-places-to-work-are-nailing-employee-engagement/) I’ll simply outline them in our post:

–        Understand what employees are thinking

–        Create an intentional culture

–        Demonstrate appreciation for contributions, big and small

–        Commit to open, honest communication

–        Support career path development

–        Engage in social interaction outside work

–        Know how to communicate the organizations stories

The second question is equally as important – how do I know if my employees are engaged? The most obvious way is through surveys. Many organizations use online surveys to measure their employee’s engagement. However, more and more organizations are finding out that online surveys don’t yield great participation results. In fact, studies have shown that paper surveys yield higher participation rates than online surveys. Because our software allows users to create, distribute, and report on thousands of paper surveys, many organizations have had success using our software to measure employee engagement.

Knowing whether or not your employees are engaged is a top priority in organizations across all types of industry. How do you measure employee engagement?

Normandale Community College has success with ExpertScan

Customer Profile – Normandale Community College

“We use AutoData’s products every single day now,” says Anne Janzen, a performance improvement specialist at Normandale Community College (NCC) in Bloomington, MN. NCC is consistently ranked as one of the top 50 community colleges in the country and enrolls over 10,000 students.

“In the past, many of our departments were using comment cards and other experience surveys that they were entering in by hand or worse – filing them away and never doing anything with the information collected.” With ExpertScan’s form scanning technology, NCC can take full advantage of the valuable information and insight they collect from their students.

Not only does ExpertScan make it easier for NCC to collect and report important data, but Anne says “ExpertScan allows us to print the surveys through any printer on regular office paper which saves us a lot of money, as opposed to using scantron-type surveys. This also makes the survey creation process more user-friendly.”

Anne further discussed the importance of their process of using paper surveys, “[our] online response rates were horrible and resulted in invalid data. To be able to administer end-of-course surveys and satisfaction surveys in the classroom to get representative rates was wonderful. We really rely on these results to inform decision-making.”

ExpertScan’s automatic reporting features help NCC to communicate those results, “we create lots of standard reports – each faculty member gets reports on each class with their course evaluation results compared with everyone else for that semester.”

“For the price, AutoData’s products are superior to any other I’ve encountered. Without AutoData’s software, our ability to evaluate the effectiveness of our services and programs would be limited.”

Thank you to Anne Janzen and NCC for being this month’s customer profile!

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.

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

ExpertScan with NetE-nable; Some Fresh Ideas

NetE-nable

If you’re not already aware, ExpertScan has a web add-on we like to call NetE-nable.  When using NetE-nable, data you gather off the web is populated into the same database as your paper surveys and forms, giving you an unprecedented advantage over manually key entering data or using a separate web survey source.  ExpertScan already eliminates manual entry of paper forms and surveys, but with the NetE-nable add-on you have the option to do away with the hassle creating separate surveys online, combining separate databases, and ultimately avoiding the not-so-joyful issues that may arise with those processes.  One database, one survey… One solution!

AutoData is constantly churning out new ideas to create a better experience for  our customers.  With the creation of this blog, we are now able to share many of those ideas with you, the end user or a prospective customer.  Here are two ideas to help disperse your NetE-nable forms or surveys.

Short URL’s

With the internet becoming commonplace in today’s vernacular, long and drawn-out URL’s have become more of a nuisance. As such, many websites have created generators that automatically turn a long, unwieldy URL into a simpler, shorter one. For example, the video website, YouTube, uses a customized short URL for sharing their videos. In this example, you see their short URL as “youtu.be” with a series of characters following the “/”.  The following URL links to our ExpertScan with NetE-nable Intro video:  http://youtu.be/HdQvrzwxjJ8.  I don’t need to go into detail of how this works, but the series of characters define where the URL directs the user.

Why should you care?  Glad you asked!  When using our NetE-nable software and after completing the NetE-nable wizard you are given a link as a means to disperse or “publish” your survey.  Often times, it can be a bit lengthy (especially when using barcodes) and cumbersome to display on a website, in an email, or even print on paper.  My short URL generator of choice for some time now has been Tiny URL for the following reasons:

  • It’s FREE!  Who doesn’t like free?!
  • No need to sign up;  quick and easy URL’s generated
  • No spam filter; some short URL services require you to complete those pesky, often difficult to decipher spam filters
  • Custom/alias URL option; you can add a custom URL to your link.  Ex. www.tiny.cc/patientsatisfaction
  • Recent URL list; if you’re converting a series of survey links you’ll have a list of all your recent links from that session
  • Further services and features are provided if you sign up.  Check them out!

So armed with Tiny URL, here’s a quick tutorial of how I converted AutoData’s online survey into a short URL:

  • Copied my NetE-nable link: http://www.expertscan.autodata.com/default.aspx?webid=BB1FDEBA-0936-4EF4-BC01-DB6846029662
  • Open Tiny URL and paste the NetE-nable link here:
  • After clicking “tiny!” I’m provided with my new short URL.  That’s it!
  • I now have a short URL that’s easy to disperse: http://tiny.cc/cbw0cw

QR Codes

Another idea I’d like to mention is the use of QR codes.  QR codes are a 2D barcode that is typically scanned by a mobile device (smart phones, tablets, etc.). Often times they’re found in magazines, online, and many varying types of print materials. When the QR codes is scanned, the device follows the barcode’s “directions”.  For example, say you are gathering forms or surveys during a large conference.  While you prefer paper surveys, you may have a number of people wishing to complete the form or survey on the way to the next speaker.  By simply providing them with a QR code (printed on a banner, note card, or even the paper survey) as a link to your NetE-nable form or survey, they are still able to fill out your survey from their mobile device.  My QR code generator of choice is BeQRious for the following reasons:

  • FREE!  Again, everyone loves free!
  • No sign up required
  • Simple, straightforward directions on creating your own QR code
  • 11 types of QR codes generated (I’ll be focusing on the URL portion)
  • Customization options
  • A few downloadable file types to choose from
  • Ability to sign up for further features

This time armed with BeQRious, here’s a quick tutorial of how I created my QR code:

  • Copy the NetE-nable link: http://www.expertscan.autodata.com/default.aspx?webid=BB1FDEBA-0936-4EF4-BC01-DB6846029662
  • Open BeQRious, select URL and paste the link in the URL window:
  • If you wish, select a color of QR code
  • Choose the file format (I used JPG), size (large for me), click download and…
  • Presto!  Your very own QR code containing a link to your NetE-nable survey.
  • Give it a scan with your mobile device and fill out a sample survey!

I hope I’ve given you a couple ideas to try out with your NetE-nabled forms or surveys (or maybe I have given you the urge to buy NetE-nable!).  Post any comments or questions you may have and I’ll do my best to answer them.  Short URL’s and QR codes are not supported by our tech support staff but I am happy to assist as best I can.

Happy data gathering!