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AutoData Systems > paper 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.

Customer Profile: The Baltimore Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) operates the largest integrated health care system in the nation, with more than 1,700 hospitals, clinics, community living centers, and other facilities. Included in the varied types of care the VA provides are many specialized clinical and research centers. Baltimore’s Multiple Sclerosis Center of Excellence is one such place and has used AutoData’s Scannable Office since 2008.

The Associate Director of Epidemiology and Outcomes for the MS Center, Dr. William Culpepper, explained how the Center has had success using Scannable Office in collecting pertinent data from veterans from all over the country. Over the past five years, the Center used Scannable Office with help conducting two nation-wide surveys. Dr. Culpepper and the Center sought to collect specific, detailed clinical data on veterans with MS. They found that one of the best ways to do so was through representative surveys and asking the patients themselves. Dr. Culpepper wanted something simple to use and something that could be managed by his assistants yet still retain its high functionality; they ultimately settled on Scannable Office. Before mailing the surveys out, the Center was able to pre-print the surveys with ID numbers linking the form back to the respondent, a feature Dr. Culpepper appreciated. The Center then mailed out the paper surveys to thousands of veterans.

The Center collected data from over 3,000 veterans nationwide and Dr. Culpepper was able to use that data to draft multiple manuscripts describing the epidemiology of MS. One of the important findings Dr. Culpepper was able to show was that the veteran population with MS is not that different than the non-veteran population with MS. Evidence was also gathered to show that within the VA system, MS patients’ care costs twice as much as other patients’ care. Dr. Culpepper and the MS Center of Excellence are doing extremely important work by conducting cutting edge research and clinical work on our nation’s heroes diagnosed with MS. AutoData is proud to learn that Scannable Office has played a small part in aiding the Center to further its research. Most importantly, the Center continues to plan more survey based research in the future in an effort to learn more about veterans with MS.

Health System Finds Success With ‘Ad hoc’ Surveys

In a reoccurring segment on our blog,  we’d like to highlight another customer’s success with our software. The customer we’d like to highlight is a unified health system of physicians, hospitals, and communities located in and serving a large metro area in the Midwest. This health system has state of the art neo-natal, obstetrics, and perinatal care centers which offer a variety of different services for pregnant women, newborns, and families. Year after year, this health system consistently delivers the most babies in their respective state.

They have used AutoData’s survey scanning software for nine years and counting.

“We use the software for all of our ‘ad hoc’ surveys,” says a planning manager for the health system’s Corporate Planning and Business Development group. Whether it’s a one-time survey or a monthly survey, they use Scannable Office to gather and measure important information for many different projects within the health system.

“As an example,” he says, “our Primary Stroke Center is a ‘Joint Commission Certified Center for Excellence’ in treating stroke patients, which requires abiding by a certain set of standards.” One standard set forth by the Joint Commission is to provide patient feedback. “We use Scannable Office to create the survey and mail them to discharged stroke patients.” They receive the evaluations back from the patients, scan the surveys using Scannable Office, tabulate and create reports on the data, and then send that information to the Primary Stroke Center. The information is then analyzed and studied by the stroke center which assists in providing education to patients and focuses on secondary prevention.

On top of being a Certified Center for Excellence, and as mentioned above, the health system is a leader in neo-natal, obstetrics, and perinatal care. A key part of the system’s high quality care in those specialized areas is the wide array of maternity classes they offer. “We also use Scannable Office to evaluate all of our maternity care classes,” says the planning manager, “the data we collect is turned into trend charts for analysis and to communicate how to improve our classes.” Consistently striving to improve their programs and classes contributes to the great success their hospitals have experienced.

They also use our paper scanning software within their residency programs. Providing patient feedback on the residents is an integral part of how the health system teaches, and subsequently produces, great doctors. The data collected from the patients is used to give each resident a scorecard reflecting their work, giving the future doctors the opportunity to examine their strengths and weaknesses.

Further, the health system uses Scannable Office for at least a half dozen other surveys. The planning manager has found that Scannable Office serves a great niche function in his hospitals. “While we outsource all of our health system’s patient satisfaction surveys due to sheer volume, we have found Scannable Office gives us the flexibility and autonomy needed for successfully administering the dozens of ‘ad hoc’ surveys across our hospitals.”

AutoData’s software’s ability to allow its user to have full control over the creation, distribution, and reporting of surveys has helped numerous customers improve organizational processes, cut costs, and most importantly, provide higher quality care.

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!