The latest issue of the Journal of Healthcare Management arrived in the mail the other day and I immediately noticed that a new mobile publication format is now available. I'm so proud of ACHE for not only keeping up with advances in technology, but in some respects also leading the way. I'd like to think that in some small way all of my pushing and prodding over these last several years has helped this along, but really the heavy lifting is all ACHE.
While this was exciting, I also noticed an article that speaks to me. It speaks to me because I am one of the 20% of patients who include handwritten notes on my survey forms. (You should have seen the ones I left regarding my patient experience #1 ) I applaud the study authors for their interest in understanding the value of anecdotal information which is typically not recorded by vendors.
Some key findings from their review of HCAHPS survey responses from 589 inpatients at two different hospitals include:
- Nearly 20% of the surveys contained at least one written comment
- 58.6% of those who wrote comments made more than one comment on their surveys
- Anecdotal comments contain information that numerical ratings do not capture
- rating scales do not completely assess people's experiences (they can be more dissatisfied than their individual responses to individuals questions would indicate)
- Relatively few people give negative ratings, and even fewer (5%) write negative comments
- However, negative experiences exert a stronger influence on overall satisfaction and intention than positive experiences
The reason why this is important comes down to one example. In this case, the patient's response of blacking out two circles would have resulted in the system recognizing it as a "no response". However, you can clearly see there is some very useful information for anyone looking to improve the score for this particular question.
Question: How often did nurses listen carefully to you?
Patient's Answer: Day - Never; Night - Always
So, the lesson learned here is the importance of both qualitative and quantative data to truly understanding the entire patient experience and recognizing the opportunities for improvement. Hospitals and clinicians can't afford to leave feedback on survey tools or to leave value-based purchasing (VBP) money on the table.