By Jonathan Lee
Patient feedback is essential for EMS and has several benefits.
This type of patient feedback is often still done informally or with paper-based systems. In the past, rarely was feedback gathered in an efficient and precise way—and software analytics to help decipher the data were sorely lacking in the marketplace.
That’s not the case anymore. Software systems are available that collect patient feedback and can benefit agencies in several ways. Few people are as invested in patient feedback as Bill Mergendahl; he has always been a champion of the process.
1. MEASURES WELLBEING OF THE PATIENT
The priority for any healthcare provider should be the wellbeing of the patient, said Bill Mergendahl, CEO of Pro EMS ambulance company and a founder of Feedback Innovations, a patient satisfaction measurement company offering response analytics software.
Pro EMS demonstrates this by giving every patient, even those who are not transported, the opportunity to share their experience.
They do this by sending each a survey. They found this to be much superior to alternative methods, such as directing patients to a website.
“It gathers a much broader and more comprehensive picture of the patient experience,” Mergendahl said. “In an era of patient centered care, I feel strongly that this guarantees each patient has a voice.”
2. ACCURATE FEEDBACK FOR PRE-HOSPTIAL PROVIDERS
Perhaps the people who benefit the most from patient feedback are the paramedics, EMTs and other frontline providers caring for those who are surveyed.
Prehospital providers often operate in a vacuum – receiving little feedback on their performance. The information they do receive is typically in the form of QI reports measuring response times or guidelines compliance.
A well administered satisfaction survey lets providers learn about their affect and how they made the patient feel, with the vast majority of patient comments being positive, staff can be reassured that what they do is making a difference.
3. MOTIVATES THE TEAM
Implementing a rigorous patient survey system had unintended consequences at Pro EMS—more motivated employees based on patient feedback.
All front-line providers receive regular reports, specific to their patients and the care they provided to them. This feedback is powerful, Mergendahl said.
In a short period of time, employees realized that every interaction with a patient or family member mattered.
“Comments came directly from the patients, something that carries much more weight than feedback coming from supervisors or management,” he said.
Mergendahl said the consistent, frequent nature of the reports means that providers can make changes in their patient interactions, and assess the results of those changes when the next report arrives.
“Front line staff become responsible for their own continuous improvement,” he said. “Patient satisfaction surveys are a tangible way to “develop a culture of accountability.”
4. PROVIDES DETAILED REPORTING ON PERFORMANCE
Pro EMS uses the information gathered from patient surveys to generate detailed reports of how the end-users view the service provided.
These reports are provided regularly by Feedback Innovations, giving tangible metrics to key stakeholders such as funding agencies, and key hospital accounts.
Furthermore, patient surveys are an important part of accreditation, and accreditation is an important part of demonstrating professionalism and gaining the respect of stakeholders.
5. HELPS WITH ACCREDIATION
Mergendahl said accreditation is another benefit of patient satisfaction surveys.
He pointed to the standards set by the Triple Aim Framework. Developed by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Triple Aim describes a system for optimizing healthcare performance by simultaneously pursuing three dimensions:
- improving the patient experience (including quality and satisfaction)
- improving the health of populations
- reducing the per capita cost of healthcare
Patient satisfaction surveys form an integral part of this system, Mergendahl said.
“They satisfy the Triple Aim requirement of giving the patient and their family a voice,” he said. “They also provide high level metrics that mirror those measured by hospitals, demonstrating that EMS does not operate in a vacuum, but is subject to the same process improvement as other areas of healthcare.”
If your agency is not already using patient satisfaction surveys, consider these five reasons why it is important to start implementing the process today in order to improve your agency’s performance, motivate employees and meet industry standards.