It’s not uncommon for patients visiting the doctor to experience anxiety related to their symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment. The spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has introduced a new type of anxiety for many patients: the fear of exposure to the virus. Many Americans are even avoiding medical care due to fear of contracting the virus in a healthcare setting.
Using SurveyVitals’ comment sentiment analysis and keyword search, we reviewed patient comments specific to COVID-19 procedures in office-based practices. We identified the top five patient concerns related to fear of clinical contamination. Taking steps to address these concerns may increase your patients’ comfort level with your care.
Screening patients and visitors prior to entry may look different from one practice to the next. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published recommendations for screening patients for COVID-19 symptoms and risk potential.
This screening at the building entrance gives peace of mind for patients who worry they will come in contact with someone infected with COVID-19. It is important to have a triaging process in place so patients can feel at ease in your facility.
Patients are particularly apprehensive about handling shared items such as pens, clipboards, or tablets. Whenever possible, offer the option for patients to fill out paperwork online prior to their visit.
For patients who do need to fill out forms onsite, disinfect pens and clipboards after each use. Consider having a clearly-labeled ‘clean’ set of pens and clipboards for patients to use.
In the waiting room, remove magazines and toys. If wifi is available, post the login information so patients can use their phones while they wait.
Many patients express discomfort with their proximity to other people in the waiting room. The CDC guidelines for clinic COVID-19 preparedness specify that waiting rooms should be set up to allow for six feet of distance between patients. Use signs to designate seating as off-limits, or remove chairs from the waiting room to provide adequate social distancing.
For check-in and check-out, place markers on the floor for patients to stand on to maintain six feet of distance.
If social distancing is not feasible in your waiting room, consider having patients wait in their cars or in a designated outdoor waiting area. If possible, you may also set up partitions inside.
The CDC has published recommendations regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) for clinicians and symptomatic patients. However, required use of masks by all staff (both clinical and office) as well as patients and visitors is important in reducing patient anxiety about COVID-19 exposure.
If masks are required at your facility, make the policy known when scheduling the appointment and again with any reminders sent to the patient.
Sometimes patients can have difficulty with understanding their provider or another staff member due to mask use. Before removing your mask, view this article on communicating effectively while following COVID-19 prevention procedures.
It’s crucial to offer hand sanitizer and tissues, and to ensure patients can easily access trash cans and soap at sinks. Patients without access to these supplies are likely to experience anxiety about contamination, especially if they have had to handle shared items such as pens, or if they’ve had to touch door handles or equipment.
Since March 2020, SurveyVitals has surveyed over 100,000 patients to capture public sentiment regarding COVID-19. View the ongoing study here and sign up for a demo today to learn how you can take part while collecting valuable feedback about the patient experience in your organization.
Best Practice, covid-19, Improvement, outpatient, patient comments, patient experience, Patient feedback, Patient Satisfaction
Tina Eide, a board certified anesthesiologist from Matrix Anesthesia, was one of the winners of our recent Patient Experience Week giveaway. We asked Tina about the best practices she follows to provide exceptional patient care, and we’re excited to share her responses.
Tina studied medicine at the University of Washington and trained at Virginia Mason Medical Center. Her primary areas of work interest include regional anesthesia, neuroanesthesia, lifestyle/behavior, and anti-aging medicine.
What best practices do you and the staff you work with follow that you attribute to your positive scores?
Tina Eide: [The] Overtake Hospital pre-operative setting includes private rooms for each patient, so interviews can be conducted with a closed door, and a quiet environment. This is instrumental in developing patient trust, explaining anesthetic choices, and creating a safe space for patients to voice anxieties or fears. Also, the pre-op nurses are excellent and gather information ahead of the anesthesiologist meeting the patient, so we don’t have to be entirely reiterative.
I always try to ask several specific questions about a patient. By knowing a few personal details, I can often begin talking about a familiar topic that helps put the patient at ease. I’ve even gotten three patients to sing for me recently!
Finally, I always offer my first name after I’ve introduced myself as Doctor Eide. I give my patient the choice of which to call me, and most prefer calling me Dr. Tina or just Tina. I am able to communicate through this that I am a professional but I am also a human.
What is one example of how you improved your relationship with your patients and/or the care you provide?
Tina Eide: When I first began, I was hesitant to explain all the risks that are inherent to anesthesia with patients. I felt this information might burden them or raise their anxiety prior to surgery. As I grew as a doctor and learned from my patients, I realized that patients are entitled to know the specifics of the care they will receive while under anesthesia. Some patients will decline a total explanation, and this is just fine. Other patients want to know each event that will occur and the possible up and downsides.
I learned that if I was upfront and explicit about the risk discussion, patients were extremely appreciative and their trust in me grew as well.
How do you best use your SurveyVitals data for your own personal improvement?
Tina Eide: I look for the specific comments that patients make about their experiences. Often we only hear general feedback like “great job” but when people relay a certain moment that touched them, or a particular action I did that helped them feel at ease, I am able to repeat that going forward.
I also accept any critical feedback with an open mind and heart. As a doctor, I hold myself to an exceptionally high standard to ‘do no harm’ which can sometimes translate in my mind as ‘make no mistakes.’ Clearly, as a human being, I have to accept that I will make a mistake now and again. If I can hear the critical feedback well enough to learn from it, however, I see it as a growth opportunity rather than something negative.anesthesia, anesthesiologist, Best Practice, Improvement, Our Clients, patient comments, patient experience, Patient feedback, Patient Satisfaction
Clint Allred, a full-time CRNA for Anesthesia Associates of Boise, was the grand prize winner of our recent Patient Experience Week giveaway. He is performing in the top 25% of anesthesia providers nationally. We asked Clint about his best practices for providing exceptional patient care, and we’re excited to share his responses.
Clint completed his nursing education at Weber State University in 2006, and then attended the University of Tennessee for CRNA training. He has been practicing in Boise since 2011.
What best practices do you and the staff you work with follow that you attribute to your positive scores?
Clint Allred: There is a huge push in our profession to unite with our surgeon colleagues and work toward “enhanced recovery after surgery ” protocols. We have known that there are a lot of different ways to manage the anesthetic of a patient, and each patient requires a different anesthetic. The downside to this is the fact that everyone does something different so the continuity of care is sometimes lacking.
To correct this discrepancy, we created a quality committee within our group. This committee was tasked with reviewing literature along with some of the bigger medical institutes, and then sitting down with anesthesia providers from within our group and developing some protocols for the surgeries that we provide routinely. This initiative at least put all of us on the same page to start with. These protocols deal not only with the patient during surgery, but also some interventions before surgery to improve their outcomes. Since installing these protocols, it has been incredible to see the patient, surgeon, and nurse satisfaction elevate. Every anesthetic still needs to be tailored just right, but this has really helped us be proactive in our decision prep.
What is one example of how you improved your relationship with your patients and/or the care you provide?
Clint Allred: It has amazed me how a little bit of effort goes a long way in ensuring comfort for our patients. It can be something as simple as a warm blanket in the cold metal OR, or talking with the patient on their level trying to take time to explain things.
One thing that we have instituted is in our pediatric population. The inhalational anesthetics that we use have a pungent smell. Kids really hate inhaling that odorous gas. So, we bought a bunch of Lip Smacker chapsticks and then bring the mask to the kids and let them pick out a flavor. They paint the inside of the mask with the flavor they selected and it negates that bad smell when the mask is on their face. Little things like these efforts don’t really take a cumbersome amount of time or energy. They just require a little effort and can really improve the relationship with patients.
What is one thing you avoid doing in order to provide a better experience for your patients?
Clint Allred: The biggest thing I have had to make a conscious effort to try and avoid is just going through the motions with my patients preoperatively. I have always taken pride in the quality of anesthesia care that I provide, but I realized when my son had surgery, that I really needed to change my approach to patients before they even have anesthesia. The day of surgery for patients is an overwhelming experience. Even before you get to the surgery and recovery phase, so much is thrown at them. I found that because administering anesthesia is a routine part of my life, I was just doing the bare minimum to educate and put my patients at ease. We would then whisk them away and go provide anesthesia. My experience taught me that taking an extra five minutes to sit down and talk with the patients about what they were going to experience, both for them and their family members, went a long way to easing their anxiety.
How do you best use your SurveyVitals data for your own personal improvement?
Clint Allred: SurveyVitals definitely serves as a reminder to keep those goals and changes, instituted in my own personal practice, in the forefront of my mind daily. Obviously, I won’t make everyone happy all the time. I used to just shrug my shoulders and act like it didn’t matter. However, what I did find is that when I changed my attitudes and practice – all of a sudden the SurveyVitals data meant something to me. It is a way to drive and improve my practice. I still won’t make every patient happy all the time, but I can take pride in my work and raise the bar for my patients.anesthesia, Best Practice, CRNA, Improvement, patient experience, Patient feedback, Patient Satisfaction, Quality
April 22-26 was Patient Experience Week and to celebrate, we asked our clients to share what drives them to provide memorable patient care. Those who responded were eligible to win an Amazon gift card. We’re excited to announce the winners of the giveaway and to share what motivates and inspires them to provide an exceptional patient experience!
We asked: It's Patient Experience Week! Tell us what inspires you to work every day to provide amazing care to your patients.
Grand Prize Winner: Clint Allred, CRNA, Anesthesia Associates of Boise
“I work at a fairly average sized hospital with ten operating rooms in which we do all kinds of surgeries and care for all types of patients. It is a job that is always moving and often requires stretching of one’s abilities clinically and also professionally within our anesthesia group. Sometimes amidst the day to day providing of anesthesia, combined with the complexity of hospital bureaucracy, the patient and their experience can sometimes be forgotten. At some point in all of our careers, we got into the medical field because of our desire to care for other people. For some that motivation is fast forgotten and never found again. For me growing up, it was my younger brother who instilled this desire in me. He had serious handicaps and spent a lot of his life in and out of hospitals. Our experience was so dependent on those caring for him, for better or worse, those providers served as the rudder for our interactions with healthcare. I wanted to have a strong and helpful influence so that others could have their burden lightened.
Recently, my eight year old son had his tonsils removed. This is a very routine case, millions are done each year, and I provide the anesthesia for 6-8 of these types of cases at least once a week in our practice. The anesthetic for this case has become routine and mundane for me personally. All of a sudden I was thrust onto the other side of the experience. There my son laid on the gurney getting prepped for surgery. I saw him run the gamut of emotions; fear, anxiety, apprehension, concern...etc. All of a sudden those emotions of why I went into medicine came flooding back. I realized that the way I interacted with patients would leave a lasting impact on them. Clinically I have always provided my best care and effort, but I saw through my boy's eyes that I could do more and be more as a clinician. My son received incredible care and has since healed from his physical incisions, but the experience he had prior to surgery has had a far greater impact.
It is this message that inspires me to provide amazing care to my patients. No matter how routine or regular a procedure is to me, I remember that experience and hold strong to the fact that it is not routine for the patient on the stretcher.”
Alexis Haney, RN, USAP
“To be a caring voice to a person who didn't wake up wanting to be sick or have surgery. Everyday, I partner with SurveyVitals because in the background, almost every patient is given a chance to have a voice. I am that individual that gets to read their thoughts, their frustrations, their fears. I am able to offer them a chance to make a difference when they are in a position where they feel they have little control. When a patient requests to be called back... I can be the caring voice on the other end and I can convey to them I really do care, perhaps that will make them feel a little better and perhaps I can make a change or help their concern because USAP cares and wants to be better and that why I am inspired to provide amazing care and support to patients.”
Tina Eide, MD, Matrix Anesthesia
“Anesthesia is a tricky job, because everything is fine until it’s really not fine. It requires constant vigilance and care, even when I show up feeling less than 100%. On these days, I look to my patients for energy and strength, because I know they are relying on me for the same. I love learning about their careers, seeing pictures of their children and pets, hearing their songs they belt out (people love singing to me!), and listening to their stories that brought them to surgery. I’ve met musicians, politicians, hospital administrators, teachers, circus performers, professional athletes, prima ballerinas, and so very many people who have interesting stories. Because we often cannot share details of our patients with our families or friends, I hold these private encounters with special regard.”
Rhina Romera, Envision Healthcare
“Working in healthcare makes a difference in people's lives. Caring for people and helping others lead healthy lives is satisfying and important. I love humankind and it is gratifying to me to make a positive impact not just on patients but everyone involved. No one likes to be ill, so it is very important to me that patients feel that they are treated with compassion and respect.”
Sarah Russell, FNP, Wellspring Health Services
“The one thing that inspires me the most to provide excellent care is when patients follow up and start feeling so much better! I have also had patients tell me that for the first time they felt like a provider actually listened to them and cared about their story and their health. Oftentimes a patient's story will give the clues to their disease processes and struggles and be the beginning of the answer in leading them back to health. Without listening to the patient, it is often a matter of just cold medicine treatment that can leave the patient sicker rather than better.”
Anne LeBlanc, USAP
“For us providers, our days can often seem routine. Remembering that for our patients, surgery is often a very scary and powerless position to be in. Connecting with the patient and family in the preoperative area and forming a trustworthy bond is one of the most inspiring and valuable parts of our job. Being able to relieve some of that anxiety and comfort them in their time of fear is incredibly rewarding and inspiring for me.”
Thank you to all of our clients who took the time to share their stories! We admire your dedication to the patient experience.best practices, Improvement, Our Clients, patient experience, Patient feedback, Patient Satisfaction
However, social media can also be a double edged sword. Frustrated patients can come to your page to blow off steam and users can leave reviews or comments with no verification that they are even a real patient. How do you handle this? Be proactive and monitor your comments diligently and work to handle concerns and questions offline or via private message. Avoid having a conflict play-out on your public timeline. Additionally, using the Provider Widget to display your verified patient reviews, star rating and top scoring areas will help establish credibility and combat the potential negative comments of a select number of users on your page.
Ready to get started with SurveyVitals? Schedule a demo today.
What are your “Do’s and Don’ts” for social media? Share them in the comments section below.Best Practice
OrthoTexas is a physician-owned group specializing in complete orthopedic care, surgery, and non-surgical procedures for the total body. Their nine locations offer the latest technology and imaging, in-house physical therapy, and on-site surgical centers. Their organization, one of the largest groups of board-certified, fellowship-trained orthopedic physicians in Texas, began using the SurveyVitals® solution over 2 years ago for their 27 providers.
“We didn’t have a patient satisfaction tool before we chose SurveyVitals. We had no way to measure our patients’ satisfaction levels,” said Tracy Jackson, Vice President of Operations. “But then we heard Bob [SurveyVitals’ President] speak at a conference in Austin, and we knew we had found the tool to take us to the next level,” he continued.
Jackson explained, “One of the features I appreciate most is the Alerts section of the portal. I typically log in to the SurveyVitals portal 2-3 times per week to ensure the managers at our multiple locations are promptly managing their alerts. The new Alerts page makes it easy to manage, track, and archive alerts across all of our locations in one easy spot.”
Mr. Jackson pays particular attention to the Contact Me requests that come in from patients. “It’s imperative to stay on top of any contact requests that come in from patients. While there are always a few patients who don’t really need follow up–perhaps they didn’t fully read the question–it’s worth a few extra phone calls to make sure we promptly address any true patient concerns.”
“In our organization, each manager is responsible for their location’s contact requests. We always add notes to the SurveyVitals system, and mark them as In Progress so everyone can clearly see the status of each open issue. We then attempt to reach out to the patient twice, adding notes about resolution when appropriate. If the patient hasn’t responded after the two attempts, we’ll change the status to Closed.”
Mr. Jackson continued, “Before that new function was launched, I used to spend so much time copying and pasting the contact requests into Outlook, saving them in a pending folder so I could follow up on them as need. I’d have to remind my managers twice a week to check their alerts. The new Alerts functionality has saved me so much time. Now we’re managing all of that information within one spot in the SurveyVitals product.”
“In the end, it’s all about happier patients. They’re pleased that you listened to them, and that increased satisfaction is reflected in our scores,” finished Jackson.Alerts, Best Practice, Contact Me, Nov 2015
Lance Boyd, Chief Relations Officer at Summit Strategic Solutions, the MSO for Summit Medical Group in East Tennessee, holds a daily huddle with his entire staff. The meeting typically takes less than 3 minutes–just long enough to review the customer service standards they’ve set for the day.
How does it work? On the Friday of the prior week, Lance emails everyone the topics for next week’s huddles. Then everyone gathers each morning to review the talking points, share stories and experiences, and set goals for the day.
Summit is one of the area’s largest primary care organizations, and its 220 physicians engage in almost 1 million patient encounters per year. That’s a lot of opportunities for patient satisfaction!
“We know we need to provide great customer service in addition to providing the high quality healthcare patients expect. It’s no longer enough to just show up and expect that patients will do the same. They have a choice in the type of care they purchase, and we’d like to be their go-to care providers. This huddle, and the impact we believe it has on our patient satisfaction scores, is incredibly important to our staff, our physicians, our organization, and our patients.”Best Practice
Arizona Digestive Health, a group made up of over 50 providers across 30 locations, is working to set a new standard of care for patients with digestive diseases. Part of their success comes from gathering patient feedback and implementing changes to address any issues that arise.
Ian Rogers, Director of Marketing & Patient Relations at Arizona Digestive Health through early 2015, shared some of his organization’s best practices. His group enjoys one of the top response rates among all of SurveyVitals’ SPSQ clients. With over 46,000 survey responses received over the past 3+ years, they’ve done a great job engaging their patients in the process.
Rogers explained, “We strive to be at the forefront of technology, and appreciate that surveys are sent via email, text message, and automated phone system. At intake, we gather patient email addresses and phone numbers, and note which are cell phone numbers. As a result of meaningful use, we’ve become very good at standardizing and updating our intake forms across the organization. Through these updates we are able to gather essential patient information, which has certainly helped collect more patient satisfaction data.”
Arizona Digestive Health takes patient satisfaction seriously, and provides training at multiple levels to support the initiative. “We spend quite a bit of time training the front desk staff. Our corporate office starts by training the office managers at our quarterly meetings. Each office manager is then responsible for training the intake and reception staff at their locations. We also do webinars with screen sharing,” Rogers continued.
Patients see posters in the lobby and exam rooms that ask, “How did we do?” The posters let patients know they will soon receive a survey.
Arizona Digestive Health maximizes a patient’s cognitive recall by sending surveys to patients within a few days of their visit. “We upload patient data to SurveyVitals via their API. After a simple set up process, data is automatically sent every day or two. We don’t have to lift a finger to send surveys to all of our patients,” said Rogers. Patients typically receive a request to provide feedback within a week or two of their appointment date. This helps patients provide timely, accurate feedback to the practice.
All patient survey responses are tallied in real-time and displayed to providers and the administrators via client dashboards and reports. “I like the Contact Me feature of the SurveyVitals solution. The office managers are the first line of defense in contacting patients who may need to share further concerns about their experience, but I see the alerts too, and can stay on top of what’s going on in all of our locations. We take that feedback to heart and appreciate the information that patients are willing to share.”
Arizona Digestive Health makes sure all of their providers have access to their own survey results and scores. Then they took it a step further by redesigning their website to include those patient satisfaction scores in each provider’s bio, right alongside their education, specialties, board certifications, and hospital affiliations.
How did they get their providers and staff on board with this idea? “We involved them from the beginning in our patient satisfaction partner selection process. They saw the SurveyVitals demos and got to participate in the decision process from the start,” explained Rogers.
“We’re proud of our scores, and wanted to use the patient satisfaction data in a meaningful way. Physicians are competitive by nature. You publish their scores, and they want to keep getting better. That’s how the cycle of continuous improvement begins!” said Rogers.
The patient satisfaction surveys revealed a few other small issues as well. “We added trash cans and coat hangers in the waiting areas,” finished Rogers. “It was a simple change, but small things can really add up in terms of patient satisfaction.”
To summarize the best practices mentioned here:
Have your own best practices to share? Submit them to us, and we’ll feature them in an upcoming post.Best Practice, Response Rates
Dr. John Dalton, Chief Quality Officer of PhyMed Healthcare Group, has a unique approach to providing top quality patient care. At the end of each visit, he hands the patient his business card. Not such an unusual practice, until the patient notices that he’s included his personal, private mobile phone number on the card. Dr. Dalton believes giving patients access to their providers is important. “Patients should be able to reach a real person when they need help. Otherwise, we’re no better than the cable company.”
Some providers may be concerned about a deluge of patient calls, but Dr. Dalton has only received a handful calls in more than two years. However, the mere act of being available reassures patients of his interest in their wellbeing and his commitment to quality. He’s seen the success of this approach reflected in improved patient satisfaction scores.
Have a tip to share with your colleagues? Submit your best practice, and you may see it featured in the next newsletter.Best Practice
It’s not uncommon for patients visiting the doctor to experience anxiety related to their symptoms, diagnosis, or treatment. The spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has introduced a new type of anxiety for many patients: the fear of exposure to the virus. Many Americans are even avoiding medical care due to fear of contracting the […]
Tina Eide, a board certified anesthesiologist from Matrix Anesthesia, was one of the winners of our recent Patient Experience Week giveaway. We asked Tina about the best practices she follows to provide exceptional patient care, and we’re excited to share her responses. Tina studied medicine at the University of Washington and trained at Virginia Mason […]
SurveyVitals’ digital patient experience surveys help you gain a deeper understanding of your performance with immediate patient feedback. Did you know our solution includes many more surveys at no additional cost to help drive improvement from every angle of your practice? 1. Point of Care Our Point of Care tool allows you to address patient […]
Clint Allred, a full-time CRNA for Anesthesia Associates of Boise, was the grand prize winner of our recent Patient Experience Week giveaway. He is performing in the top 25% of anesthesia providers nationally. We asked Clint about his best practices for providing exceptional patient care, and we’re excited to share his responses. Clint completed his […]