Electronic Health Records

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Are healthcare surveys really capturing patient experience?

By [email protected]

We can learn so much by listening. The post-hospital visit survey (HCAHPS) is an important tool for patients to efficiently report on their experience in the facility. But what about all those interactions within that experience and those that also led to that same experience? It has as much to do with patient confidence as it does with patient satisfaction in the continuum of this experience.

The national dialogue has recently turned to patient experience of healthcare amidst the changes taken place as a result of federal and state health IT initiatives (e.g., the meaningful use of certified EHR technology in the EHR Incentive Programs). Despite the influx of technology into the clinic, the patient experience is first and foremost defined by personal interactions between patients, physicians, and the clinic staff.

There is plenty of frustration with the medical credentialing process for physicians. From the details to the sustained diligence, if there were ever an invitation for automation for this aspect of the healthcare experience, it’s been in the mail for some time from clinic staff. But these relationships are important as they often represent a starting point for patients seeking care and an effective use of their insurance coverage.

An educated staff that understands both its role in being receptive to this conversation from a patient and how they can encourage an interaction with the patient makes these interactions meaningful within the patient experience.

Positioning the clinic within a conversation among people in the community is as important as it is on the insurance panels. Patients have their own criteria for credentialing physicians, and some of the unfortunate outcomes are those comments about their experience appear on third-party review sites. The interactions throughout the entire patient experience have always been important but too often overlooked in lieu of the portion spent only with the physician. While there is no question about the certain value of the patient-physician interaction, the perceived value from a survey point-of-view may include much more for the patient.

While the survey of the patient experience is an important source of data within the clinic, it’s just as important to recognize the importance of being present in the moment. The free flow of information within social media platforms is an extension of a longstanding reality that people will talk. Whether it be about their patient experience or the quality of their lunch, the survey of the experience is happening right here and right now.

As we continue to evolve in the accessibility and sharing of personal health information, it’s critical to be aware of the free flow of the patient experience as well. One can always wait in the clinic for the historical data of the experience from the patient survey. But the more important question to ask is: “How are we leveraging all of these relationships and interactions in the moment with the patient?


Robert Green is the author of Community Healthcare: Finding a Common Ground with New Expectations in Healthcare. Through his physician client relationships, Bob has gained substantial insight regarding the daily challenges that medical professionals and their staffs face, such as regulatory issues, financial management, and clinical collaboration through the use of health IT. His process of making both interpersonal and purposeful connections within the organization results in improved employee performance and confidence and enhanced client experience.





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