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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.

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?

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.

Scannable Office cited by study as being “significantly” quicker than manually entering patient data

Public Health Ontario (PHO) recently released a study in which they used Scannable Office® for incorporating scannable forms into their immunization data collection processes. Like many healthcare organizations, PHO realized that “[p]opulating individual-level records through manual data entry is time-consuming. An alternative is to use scannable forms, completed at the point of vaccination and subsequently scanned and exported to a database or registry.”

PHO selected AutoData® Scannable Office as “the most appropriate software for this feasibility study.”

PHO’s study noted how the majority of clients commented on the ease of the entire process, “[q]uestionnaires were completed by 198 clients at HRHD clinics . . . [m]ost clients reported that instructions were clear (81%), the experience of writing letters/numbers in individual boxes was the same or easier than other forms (88%), completing this type of form took the same amount of time or less than other types of forms (87%), and there were no parts of the form that they found confusing (84%).” Further, “[s]ome clients noted that these forms contained more space than others, and that the allocation of one box per character made the form easier to complete.”

PHO found that “[p]ersonnel in both organizations used the scanning application successfully to capture high quality immunization data,” and that the “time required to scan and verify forms at (HRHD) was significantly shorter than manual data entry.”

Finally, PHO observed that “scanning is associated with shorter data processing times, which, when considered in the context of hundreds or thousands of vaccinees, means that fewer resources are required to compile these high quality datasets.”

Find the Full report here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3525595/