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AutoData Systems > Sannable surveys

Patients or consumers?

“The health care landscape is changing.”

That phrase – or some variation of that phrase – has been used ad-nauseam in recent years (we’re guilty of using it). The phrase has become cliché, as most people are aware that massive change in healthcare is underway through government reform referred to as ObamaCare. Although a large portion of the general population understands that change is happening, I don’t think they are sure – present company included – what the change means or where it is headed. Further complicating things is the change happening unrelated to ObamaCare, due to advances in technology and changes in consumer sentiment. You read that correctly, consumer, not patient.

In basically every industry outside of health care, when change is needed, the consumers drive the change whether individual businesses are ready or not. The customer knows best, after all. With the advent of Yelp!, Google reviews, Angie’s List, and countless social media sites, consumers have been given a much larger voice – and businesses have been listening. But until recently, health care hasn’t listened. In 2014 and beyond, the hospitals and health systems that don’t start listening to their consumers will be left behind – quickly.

“Despite controlling nearly 20% of the economy, traditional healthcare is years if not decades behind other industries when it comes to adopting a business model and technologies that assess and meet consumer needs.”

The quote comes from a recent HealthLeadersMedia interview (found here) with Chris Wasden, a global healthcare innovation leader and SVP at PwC. The interview discusses recent empowerment of health care consumers who are now willing (and eager) to “dump the doctor’s office for cheaper and more convenient retail and remote alternatives that could amount to tens of billions of dollars of lost revenues if they fail to adapt.”

In short, if health systems want to survive they need to adapt. Step 1: Treat patients as consumers:

“Whether it’s the pharmaceutical companies, device makers, payers, or providers, nobody considers the patient as their customer so they’ve never tried to come up with solutions that were consumer-friendly or consumer-centric.”

Treating them as consumers forces a hospital to frame the experience they provide differently. If they frame it correctly, they will improve the consumer’s experience for the better. Framing it correctly depends on Step 2.

Step 2: listen to the consumers. Ask them. Survey them. Gather the data and use it to make consumer-friendly choices that enhance the experience and the care. Framing patients as consumers means asking different questions than ones found in typical patient satisfaction surveys or HCAPHS surveys. Ask about every conceivable positive or negative experience and then implement the proper changes. This will improve the experience and when you improve the experience and the care, the consumer will follow. The health systems that do this will flourish, the health systems that don’t will flounder. It is painfully simple.

Is there a difference between patient satisfaction and patient experience?

If so, how should both be measured?

“Patient experience and satisfaction is the No. 1 priority for healthcare executives, according to the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2013—above clinical quality, cost reduction, and many other burning issues.”

In the constantly evolving healthcare landscape, one thing is clear: delivering quality care is paramount. As the above quote suggests, patient experience and patient satisfaction are coveted key indicators of delivering quality care. The quote – from an article in HealthLeaders magazine, found here – goes on to explain why patient satisfaction and experience is the number one priority for healthcare execs:

“With the emergence and acceleration of both Medicare-approved and commercial accountable care organizations, there is a new sense of urgency for some health systems to improve their patient experience, particularly because it is one of 33 benchmarks Medicare-approved ACOs have to meet in order to qualify for the incentive payment.”

The quotes provoke a few interesting thoughts. The obvious one is that patient satisfaction and experience have never been more important. Yet, another thought begs the question: is there a difference between patient satisfaction and patient experience? Although closely related, there are certainly a few nuances differentiating the two.

Hospitals have the well-known HCAHPS – a core set of pre-determined survey questions – that they rely on to measure patient satisfaction. HCAHPS has proved successful at measuring patient satisfaction but it doesn’t necessarily get to the heart of patient experience. “Patient satisfaction and experience are closely tied together, but they are not the same,” says Press Ganey CEO, Patrick Ryan. Ryan goes on to explain:

“‘It [patient experience] is much more than just patient satisfaction,’ he says. ‘The confusion that some folks come into the industry with is that patient satisfaction is about keeping people happy, but it couldn’t be further from that because when people enter the health system, they’re coming in at one of the most complex and stressful times in their life. And what they want most from the experience is communication and understanding of what their condition is, the path to the best possible health they can achieve, and a way in which to coordinate that with their clinicians and staff to ensure that they get there.”

While HCAHPS’s standardized questions work for measuring patient satisfaction, measuring patient experience doesn’t work with one uniform set of questions. It requires multiple surveys with a variety of questions attempting to measure a variety of different topics and experiences – something that HCAHPS doesn’t do. The best way to find out if a patient is experiencing good communication from nurses and doctors or whether the patient fully understands her condition is not with a standardized 32 question survey. Those types of experiences are best measured with specific, detailed questions in the context of each situation.  “Real change begins to happen when physicians, nurses, and staff hear the voice of the customer, the voice of the patient,” Kevin Gwin – VP of communications for Ardent Health Services – is quoted saying in the article, “and you’ll have incremental improvement that turns into transformational change.”

In order for a hospital to take incremental improvement and turn it into transformational change, they must understand the difference between patient satisfaction and patient experience. Perhaps more importantly, they must understand the difference in measuring the two. In the end,  greater patient experience will translate into greater patient satisfaction which in turn will lead to a higher HCAHPS score.

Scannable Forms and Employee Engagement

There is no “one size fits all” survey

When a new superintendent for a Florida school district wanted to improve the culture in his district he turned to surveys. Kurt Browning wanted to implement employee engagement surveys to measure teachers’ engagement and create a “baseline” engagement benchmark from which to measure against. Browning, interviewed by the Tampa Bay Times, explained that “when teachers feel good about themselves and about coming to work, they will deliver.” Browning obviously understands the importance of employee engagement. However, I’m willing to bet that there was an easier way Browning could have surveyed his district’s employees.

The district used Gallup (of “Gallup poll” infamy) to ask faculty and staff “a dozen questions aimed at determining how they feel about their jobs.” The survey’s results varied greatly between the many different schools throughout the district. Not only were the results all over the board (see link to article below) but by contracting out the work to Gallup, the school district lost autonomy over its surveys. As the article wrote, “Gallup uses the same questions for businesses and schools across the country.” What happens if the school district wants to ask different questions at different schools? Shouldn’t a survey for kindergarten teachers be different for high school teachers? What if the school district wants to make changes to a survey? Who keeps all the data that is collected?

It’s no surprise that the results were all over the board. The reality is that there is no “one size fits all” survey when measuring employee engagement (or any dataset, for that matter). There are different questions, different ways to ask questions, and different people to ask. Who is in the best position to determine what questions to ask? A giant, third-party Corporation or the school district? We think the answer is simple.

By taking control of their own surveys, the school district would have the freedom to write their own survey questions, edit the surveys on the fly, custom tailor their surveys, and keep all of the data they collect on their own computers. A company like Gallup doesn’t provide those types of solutions. But AutoData does. AutoData’s software provides the flexibility for any organization to create custom tailored surveys specifically targeted to certain demographics ensuring results are as accurate as possible. Thus giving school district’s like Browning’s better, more accurate data and bringing them closer to their goal of improving their culture. And an improved culture in this case means the real winners are the students.

 

(Tampa Bay Times article cited in post: http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/pasco-school-district-absorbing-results-of-employee-satisfaction-survey/216409)

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.

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

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!