Patient feedback is important. It helps health care providers accurately assess their strengths and identify areas for improvement. However, current methods of feedback collection have limitations. Patient engagement and recollection accuracy are often an issue due to the long period of time between in-person encounters and the prompt to complete a survey.
We set out to test several approaches to feedback collection to see which might increase levels of engagement, accuracy, and most importantly utility of information to improve quality.
Our first attempt came in the form of a real-time survey offered to every patient at check-in at Penn Medicine’s Heart and Vascular Center over a period of two weeks. The paper survey asked patients to rate their experience at each interaction point as they moved through their visit, rather than all at once at the end of the experience.
After two weeks we introduced a text and voice-mail option to patients by posting collateral around the office and distributing a card to each patient at check-in. The survey included open-ended questions that prompted patients to comment on how the practice could improve.
During each test, administrative and frontline staff reviewed feedback within 24 hours and responded to concerns in a timely manner.
Over four weeks we engaged more than 1,000 patients to share feedback, and identified and followed-up with 20 patients who reported having a “poor experience."
While a number of variables such as the age of the population and nature of the practice play a role in engagement, we found a major difference in participation between the two methods.
The real-time survey had a 69% participation rate in comparison to a 1.45% participation rate for the mobile method. We also saw greater qualitative value with the paper version. Patients reported that the paper version facilitated interactions that changed their experience - such as staff making eye contact, and introducing themselves.
The real-time paper survey has since been modified and adopted at a number of similar Penn Medicine practices.