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A Better Way to Elicit Patient Feedback

By Jennifer Thew RN  
   July 07, 2015

National Park Medical Center in Arkansas finds that an automated patient callback system gathers emergency department patient satisfaction data more effectively than paper surveys.

The other day as I was checking out at a local department store, the cashier drew a circle on my receipt and asked me to participate in a customer satisfaction survey. There'd be a discount emailed to me after I completed it, she said.

I smiled and shook my head yes, but I had no intention of filling it out.

This morning, the place where I buy my morning cup of coffee asked me to complete a survey.

For my participation, I'd be rewarded with doughnuts. I didn't take that one either.

And, recently, my children's daycare provider asked all the families to take part in a survey about the caregivers and facility. That one I actually did fill out since my children are more important to me than free doughnuts.

As we go about our day-to-day activities, Americans are bombarded by these types of surveys. Throw in healthcare surveys to measure patient satisfaction and experience, and I think we may be reaching the limit on the number of surveys we're willing to complete.

We're experiencing survey fatigue, and it has the potential to affect the data hospitals seek to collect.

Survey Fatigue
As healthcare professionals, we've (sadly) become familiar with the concept of alarm fatigue—that feeling of sensory overload that can desensitize us to the point of delaying our responses, or in the worst cases, not responding at all.

Survey fatigue is similar, except that instead of being overwhelmed by information coming at us, we're being overwhelmed by the frequency and amount of information we're being asked to provide.

Often, doughnuts and discounts aren't enough to compensate for the time and effort it takes to complete surveys. I admit there are a few patient satisfaction surveys in various stages of completion that have been floating around my house since September 2014 when I had my son. It's just one more task I just can't seem to find a chance, or the will, to do.

Much like dealing with the constant bombardment of bedside alarms, the easiest way to deal with the constant bombardment of surveys is to tune them out.

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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