Focusing on and improving the right aspects of patient engagement: Part 4

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By Andy Roth

Part 4

In the past few years, patient engagement has come more and more into the spotlight as hospitals and other healthcare organizations look to improve their patient retention, their CAHPS scores, and their online reputations. It’s true that patient engagement is a vital piece of any organization’s growth strategy. Before throwing resources at ill-advised patient engagement initiatives, however, organizations should take some time to think through a scalable, sensible strategy for addressing patient concerns.

In this series, we’re taking a look at three areas hospitals can focus on to improve patient engagement — intake, nurses, and doctors — and finishing with an examination of how monitor and track patient engagement so it can be changed for the better.

Last time, we discussed doctors and their role in ensuring a positive patient experience. Today, we’ll wrap up this series with an examination of the ways hospitals and other healthcare organizations are currently monitoring their patient experience, why these methods often fall short, and what can be done about it.

Generally, most hospitals and healthcare organizations are collecting patient feedback in some way. That’s good! In every industry, for obvious reasons, it is important to listen to the customer, and healthcare is no exception. The current problem in healthcare is this: how feedback is collected prevents the care teams from utilizing the feedback to drive positive change in their organizations. Currently, the most common methods of patient feedback solicitation are CAHPS surveys and nurse rounding. For various reasons, neither of these options is ideally suited to turn the feedback they collect into actionable insights the organization can use for service recovery prior to the patient being discharged.

To be useful, feedback must first be both timely and credible. CAHPS and rounding fall short in divergent ways:

  • CAHPS surveys: the results are credible, but not necessarily timely. CAHPS surveys take weeks for the patients to receive, fill out, and return. The organization then needs to take time to analyze and derive insights from the results. As a result, the feedback is going to be useful as a snapshot of a patient’s experience, but is far too remote to work as a service recovery mechanism. It’s simply too far after-the-fact to help the organization actually improve.
  • Nurse rounding: the results are timely, but not necessarily credible. Rounding results in immediate feedback on a patient’s experience. That’s great, but it comes with a bigasterisk. Because the nurse is soliciting the feedback from the patient face-to-face, patients often don’t feel comfortable sharing when something has gone wrong out of fear of confrontation or reprisal. If the organization can’t trust the feedback that’s being collected, how can it use the feedback to chart a course forward?

Once an organization has a tool in place to collect timely, credible feedback, it still needs the ability to turn that feedback into service recovery and organizational improvement. If the tool that collects the feedback also allows for responses in addition to aggregating the data, that’s ideal — timeliness is important here as well — the shorter the lag between receiving the feedback and acting on it, the better.

Real-time, unbiased feedback is absolutely imperative if you’re going to accurately learn about what your patients are experiencing while receiving care at your organization, and improvement in patient experience is only possible when you have a system for quickly responding to patient concerns. This is why we’ve built Feedtrail. It’s a secure, HIPAA-compliant platform for soliciting and collecting patient feedback in real time. And it’s so much more. Not only does Feedtrail allow you to see the feedback as it comes in, your appropriate team member can be notified when a patient is less than perfectly satisfied with any aspect of his or her experience. You can even respond to the patient right from the Feedtrail platform. And all the data gets compiled into a powerful analytics engine that shows you emerging trends in your organization, so you can stay ahead of the curve.