By Tim Nowak
As new industry standards are set, measuring patient satisfaction becomes a benchmark EMS agencies must meet in order to get accreditation and better serve their patient population.
For example, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) has taken an active role in recognizing the need for healthcare agencies to improve patient satisfaction data by developing its Triple Aim Initiative.
TRIPLE AIM APPROACH
The IHI Triple Aim Initiative’s goal is to encourage healthcare providers and EMS agencies to improve patient satisfaction, while reducing costs.
The aim is to optimize health system performance in three ways by:
- improving the patient experience of care (including quality and patient satisfaction)
- improving the health of populations
- reducing the per capita cost of health care
Based on six phases of pilot testing with over 100 organizations around the world, the standards set by IHI recommends agencies change processes that include:
- identification of target populations
- definition of system aims and measures development of a portfolio of project work that is sufficiently strong to move system-level results
- rapid testing and scale up that is adapted to local needs and conditions
As an accredited agency, there are several reasons to measure patient satisfaction as it is part of your responsibility to seek follow-up related to a patient’s experience.
If your agency is accredited or seeking accreditation, the Triple Aim approach requires you to measure patient satisfaction using a follow-up method. This can be done in many ways, but most EMS agencies are turning to software to help them track patient data, integrate ePCRs and provide standard and customized reports for a specific agency.
This includes data survey responses that resulted in follow-ups from patients, emergency department staff, and even partnering agencies in order to validate your agency’s performance.
Quality feedback, a personalized approach toward survey evaluations, EMS-focused benchmarks, accurate data metrics, and in-person reviews of survey replies are all essential components toward receiving quality data.
The IHI believes organizations and communities that attain the Triple Aim will have healthier populations.
This is because new ways of collecting data will identify areas of improvement as well as where an agency is exceeding expectations.
Quality data leads to quality performance, which leads to accreditation and recognition. Most importantly, a quality patient interaction and gathering metrics on their experience will improve the experience of future patients and an agency’s reputation in the industry.
Gathering data on patient satisfaction for accreditation can be made easier by using patient satisfaction surveys and industry software suites. Patient satisfaction software often has existing or customized software tools that let administrators run detailed reports. This reporting data is needed to measure patient satisfaction, meet standards and receive the highest accreditation.
Measuring patient satisfaction can positively impact the lives of community members and an agencies’ bottom line.
Accredited agencies are respected for striving for excellence. This can drive service contracts and create trust between providers and the community.
Being the best also leads to public health improvements. Improved public health can transition into greater patient care programs, system growth through public trust, and quality improvement that can lead to efficiencies and overall decreased healthcare costs.
In my opinion, new standards may have the potential to impact reimbursement opportunities within our industry if accreditation isn’t met and patients are not satisfied.
For example, the integration of ePCR data and patient satisfaction follow-up through direct survey evaluations may play a key role in how EMS is reimbursed in the future based IHI and other future accreditation standards.
Not having good data on patient satisfaction may affect:
- future reimbursements for patient non-transports
- legislation to facilitate reimbursements for alternative transport destinations
- patient care bundle options within the hospital system that could be extended into EMS
Patient satisfaction standards set by organizations like the IHI are changing the EMS industry. Many patients admitted to the hospital begin their healthcare journey with EMS, and accreditation boards recognize a patient experience is crucial to improve the level of care received and the financial impact to the healthcare system.