Using Data to Measure Patient Satisfaction and Outcomes

Do you know how your patients and clients feel after a visit? Did they feel respected and that their needs were met? Did they feel a connection with staff and like their caregivers listened to and responded to their concerns? Was your facility itself a source of comfort and an inviting environment? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, or if you are just taking a haphazard guess, a look at your big picture data can help. Delving into using data to measure patient satisfaction and outcomes is a good place to start.

Using Data to Measure Patient Satisfaction and OutcomesUsing Data to Measure Patient Satisfaction and Outcomes

Think big data targets trends, not individual concerns. One patient who was unhappy enough to complain about the cold, noisy room on the third floor is just expressing an opinion. Big data allows you to see what the entire population of patients who use that room experienced. When you see that 80% of the people in that room rated it as uncomfortable, you can see that it is clearly impacting patient satisfaction—and come up with a plan to help.

Recent data analysis at the Cleveland Clinic revealed that patients had three primary concerns: respect, communication and surprisingly, happy, approachable providers. The results were a surprise to the team, who had previously – and erroneously – assumed that their biggest issue was timeliness and patient waiting times. Careful analysis of the patient satisfaction data allowed the Clinic to take actionable steps that improved overall patient satisfaction.

Room to Grow

Analyzing your data reveals more than just there you are now in terms of patient satisfaction. It can let you know which things you are doing correctly and help you spot trends. Are all of your hands-on staff getting rave reviews? Then you can tell your HR, onboarding and training teams are hitting the mark. If you are consistently receiving low marks when it comes to patients feeling rushed in your facility, a look at the overall way you schedule and perform visits may be required.

Your patient satisfaction data, once collected can reveal the items and operations that are working best for your facility and allow you to analyze why these departments are working. Faults or negatives revealed by patient satisfaction data can be used as valuable opportunity to improve. In many cases, a patient won’t be impacted enough to take the additional steps required to complain, but will be more likely to reveal their true opinion on an easy to complete survey. Once you’ve identified some key areas you’ll be better able to come up with custom designed strategies that suit your facility and your patients’ stated needs.

Abandon AssumptionsUsing Data to Measure Patient Satisfaction and Outcomes

Like the Cleveland Clinic, most facilities and teams have a built-in idea of what patient’s care is all about, but without careful analysis of patient satisfaction data, they are missing the mark entirely. Abandoning preconceived notions about not only what your patients like, but about what they don’t is key to improving your patient satisfaction and overall outcome. Using data to measure patient satisfaction and outcomes removes any personal or privacy issues and reveals where you stand now with startling accuracy.

Big data analysis is the swiftest and easiest way to learn what your patients truly think and to avoid incorrectly assuming that you’re excelling in some areas and falling short in other. Employing targeted surveys that address specific concerns can help you accurately gather patient data; if your current satisfaction survey is overly general or limited it may not yield the amount of information required.

A fresh look at both your current reported data and the questions you are asking can help yield useful, actionable results that improve patient satisfaction at your facility. Thus, finding and using data to measure patient satisfaction and outcomes will provide answers no matter which side of the stethoscope you are on.

Walk a Mile in a Patient’s Shoes

When you’ve worked a long time at a job, you know the in’s and out’s, the paint color of every wall, and the best time to take the elevator to the top floor.  However, most patients don’t spend that much time in health care facilities, unless necessary, thus they don’t know the best route to take to different departments.  To walk the paths throughout the hospital, especially paying attention to the signs, and do it through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know all the nuances and may also point out flaws or outdated information presented at the facility that causes confusion to patients.  Dedication to this ideal will go a long way to preventing problematic situations and thus helping patient satisfaction.

Pride of Ownership, Not Just a Cog in the MachineUsing Data to Measure Patient Satisfaction and Outcomes

Everyone has their own roles and responsibilities, and without everyone doing what they should, the system wouldn’t run smoothly.  Sometimes, though, it is difficult to be proud of where you are within that system, and the hierarchy tends to squash the pride of those that are doing their best but aren’t king of their hill.  Every role is essential, and should be looked upon as such.  A few organizations have gone as far as to do role changes so that employees and professionals are more aware of the other’s part in the system.  Obviously, there aren’t responsibilities that can be taken over, but sometimes seeing the pressures can help everyone understand how important every single person is.

Swallow Your Pride and Say, “Sorry”

Just like in marriage, admitting you were wrong and apologizing can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  The same exists feelings can also exist in the healthcare industry, especially when professionals are doing all they can, but it may not be enough, or may not be what the patient needed.  One of the quickest ways to lose confidence from a patient is to speak down to them and be defensive in your speech.  A patient usually isn’t looking for someone to blame, but just someone to be compassionate.  The simple phrase, “I’m sorry” goes a long way to helping a patient to feel empathy.

Complaint After Complaint After Complaint

In the service industry, there are always going to be complaints.  In the healthcare industry, you are dealing with so much on the line, and so many emotions from patients and family members, that it can feel like the straw that broke the camel’s back when someone comes up to complain about one thing or another.  Patients and family may not know who the best person is to take their complaint to may be, so it is vital that when a concern is presented that every employee is able to either address the problem or find the person who can aid in that situation.  The most important factor is that the person presenting the complaint feels like action will happen, rather than being pushed off and nothing will be addressed.

No Blame-GamesUsing Data to Measure Patient Satisfaction and Outcomes

Everyone makes mistakes, and an environment that can be fast-paced, stressful, competitive, and overwhelming, there has to be area for forgiveness, but also area to see if there is something wrong within the system.  A single mistake may be as simple as not following through, or any number of other aspects.  However, when there are repeated mistakes, this might be an indicator of something beyond that of the individuals performing their duties, and thus a serious look at the processes behind the action/mistake must be looked at.  As improvements to the system and those involved in it are made, the better the outcomes with patients will be, which will also be beneficial to patient satisfaction improvements.

Not One Factor But All of Them

When looking to improve, it is necessary to not focus on just one item, but to look at the foundations that make up patient satisfaction levels.  If the only thing that was needed to make a difference was to smile all the time, every hospital and facility could easily implement this and everyone would be happy.  But, every patient is different, the care needs are different, the health care staff has different personalities, and everything combines to require much more than a single-focused program.  Each organization is going to be unique with their patient satisfaction programs due to all these and many other factors.

Comparing the CompetitionUsing Data to Measure Patient Satisfaction and Outcomes

When comparing successes and satisfaction levels within the health care industry, you really are comparing yourself to another health care’s organization, whether that be in a neighboring city or across the country, and this can be absolutely frustrating, because no health care organization sees the exact same number of people with the exact same type of cases with the same complexities or comorbidity factors.

Obviously, some generalizations can be made, basic standards are the same, and expectations can be roughly the same.  There is a level of competition that is healthy, but striving for patient satisfaction improvement doesn’t mean you beat yourself up when you aren’t ranking as high as another health care organization, but find ways to make the improvements, like listed above, and work as an organization to be better.

This is a very simplistic list and doesn’t include meeting regulations that are set by the government and other stockholders, but it is a launching point for conversations, and a means for bettering in some quick and easy steps.  Patient satisfaction improvements are possible in any organization, and this expectation has now become standard for all health care facilities and professionals.

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