Skip to main content

5 Ways to Improve Collection of Patient Experience Data

Analysis  |  By Christopher Cheney  
   June 29, 2018

The next steps in collecting patient experience data include gathering information in real time and aligning patient experience surveys with a healthcare organization's primary goals.

Patient experience officers are seeking to enhance the timeliness and value of the data collected from patient surveys and other sources.

Upgrades are overdue, according to a recent report from Boston-based Chilmark Research.

"Traditional patient experience survey solutions suffer from three clear shortcomings: They are too long, they capture retrospective data, and they use outdated phone- and paper-based methodologies to gather data," the report says.

The report is based on interviews of a dozen chief experience officers (CXOs), who said their most pressing need is gathering data in real time before patients leave care settings such as inpatient wards, emergency rooms, and laboratories.

"Among the CXOs interviewed, the most pressing need is insight into the patient experience at the point of care," the report says.

For more than a decade, healthcare providers have been collecting valuable patient experience data through Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys required by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. However, time lag is a major shortcoming of HCAHPS data, the report says.

"To­day's CXOs increasingly need near-real-time information about patient senti­ment in order to improve the care experience while someone is still in the hospital or within days (and not weeks) of discharge."

The report makes five recommendations for healthcare providers seeking to upgrade their patient experience data capabilities:

  • Align surveys with organizational goals: Healthcare providers often focus on two or three primary goals for improving the patient experience. Survey solution questions and answers should align with these goals and the metrics such as HCAHPS that measure progress toward meeting those goals.
  • Account for employee satisfaction: Burnout has cascading impacts—successively degrading care delivery, care quality, and patient experience. Employee satisfaction surveys should gauge burnout levels and enable sentiment analysis that can provide insight on curbing burnout.
  • Real-time capability: CXOs interviewed for this report wanted to understand how in­dividual business lines and departments perform without waiting weeks for HCAHPS survey results.
  • Qualitative data analysis: Surveys should have open-ended questions, not just yes or no queries that generate quantitative data. Patient experience data collection also should include phone calls to administrative offices and call centers.
  • EHR integration: Including patient experience surveys in electronic health records allows physicians or nurses to discuss sur­veys with patients, then administer the survey during the care episode. This approach can appeal to patients who dislike automated text or email messages.

Christopher Cheney is the CMO editor at HealthLeaders.

Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.