Hospitals and health systems spend a lot to collect patient experience survey data. In some cases the goal is simply to meet a mandate (to provide HCAHPS data to CMS, for example). But most systems want to gain a lot more from their experience data investments than compliance. They want to use the information to help drive and prioritize organizational improvement. They want it to help rally physicians and staff at all levels of the organization to serve patients and family members with greater compassion and humanity. That’s a lot to ask of data. Looking beneath the surface, we see that experience data has both value and limits.
Experience data value:
Experience data is useful for providing benchmarks to compare units, facilities, or systems against each other over time. Depending on the specificity of the survey questions, experience data can also help pinpoint areas of strength and weakness, and (with some analytic manipulation) help to identify which questions have the strongest influence on overall ratings. To that end, experience data provides useful trending information and some direction on which areas to focus on.
Experience data limits:
Any survey is designed to collect information at a population level, focusing on the most common and well understood elements of an experience. As such, they can pinpoint potential problem areas, but do not effectively provide insights into root causes that enable organizations to deliver improvement. Deeper research methods and a broader approach to collecting patient and family voice are required to effectively deliver both experience improvement and differentiation in the human experience that drives loyalty and growth.
That said, ExperiaHealth has worked with health systems with varying levels of experience measurement sophistication. Below is a list of common challenges and solutions to help you make the most of your experience measurement investments:
Obsession with the metric.
Implement a closed loop continuous improvement model that capitalizes on qualitative, verbatim feedback to drive action.
Emphasizing only ‘top box’ or ‘always’ scores.
Examine where you have the highest percentage of ‘bottom box’ or ‘nevers’ to stratify where you may have emerging risks.
Focusing on lowest scores, without context for what drives overall results.
Understand your key drivers so that low scores in noise or cleanliness do not trump scores in nurse communication or teamwork that are truly driving overall loyalty.
Singling out the lowest scoring areas or individuals.
Identify, spotlight, and spread successful practices that differentiate high scoring units or departments.
Failure to involve front line employees and mid-level management in owning the data.
Provide unit level dashboards and conduct ‘improvement rounds’ to review the data and share evidence-based solutions that help drive improvement.
Using patient satisfaction surveys as a substitute for dialogue and co-design of solutions.
Develop a complete ‘voice of patient and family’ strategy that includes patient voice from the bedside to the boardroom.
Brene Brown famously described stories as “data with a soul.” What stories will you tell with your experience data?