COVID-19 and Patient Anxiety: Top 5 Concerns

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.

Top 5 Patient Concerns

#1: Visitor Screening

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.

#2: Shared Items

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.

#3: Waiting Room Distancing

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.

#4: Face Masks

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.

#5: Offering Supplies

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.

SurveyVitals Study of Patient Views on COVID-19

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.

July 23rd, 2020 Categories: Best Practices, COVID-19, featured, Outpatient Practice

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Provider Spotlight: Tina Eide, MD, Matrix Anesthesia

Provider Spotlight: Tina Eide

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.

September 16th, 2019 Categories: Anesthesia, Best Practices, Client Spotlight, featured, Patient Experience

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Provider Spotlight: Clint Allred, CRNA, Anesthesia Associates of Boise

Provider Spotlight: Clint Allred

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.

August 6th, 2019 Categories: Anesthesia, Best Practices, Client Spotlight, featured, Patient Experience

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Introducing the SurveyVitals Improvement Center!

Introducing SurveyVitals Improvement Center

SurveyVitals is excited to announce the launch of the Improvement Center in our client portal!

Our reporting, alerts, and dashboards have given our clients the real-time data needed to identify trends and work toward improving the patient experience. The Improvement Center takes the solution to the next level with a wealth of educational videos and articles to aid providers in targeting improvement where it is needed most.

To get started using the Improvement Center, login to your portal and click ‘Improvement Center’ in the left navigation. Browse general resources on the Improvement Center homepage, or view resources by survey. Survey-specific content is broken down by question group.

Not sure where to start? Use the Report Builder to analyze your data and comments and identify improvement opportunities. Then utilize the resources in the Improvement Center to gain a better understanding of what may help your patients in those areas.

SurveyVitals created the Improvement Center using input from top performers combined with extensive scientific-based research into the patient experience. Check back often for new content as our improvement resources evolve and grow with your solution.

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May 6th, 2019 Categories: Anesthesia, featured, Outpatient Practice, Patient Experience, Product Features

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8 Tips for Physicians Using Social Media

Social Media Tips for Phsyicians

Social media presents a great opportunity for practices and providers to share knowledge and connect with their community. However, when used incorrectly, social media can cause a host of PR and legal issues. Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts for providers when venturing into the world of social media.

Thumbs Up Do: Have a plan.
What do you hope to accomplish with social media? Who is your target audience? What will you post? Without clear goals, your social media can become scattered and hard to follow. Sticking to a clear plan will help keep your social media presence coherent and focused.

Thumbs Down Don’t: Overshare.
It may be therapeutic to write about personal experiences with patients, but it may also be illegal. Even seemingly harmless activities such as sharing a patient photo or mentioning a patient may be a breach of privacy. Remember your HIPAA training, and don’t post any personal patient information when sharing on either your personal accounts and your organization’s page.

Thumbs Up Do: Engage with your followers.
Join discussions, answer questions, and connect with followers. The personal connection will help to grow your following and improve your brand. Also, interacting with your followers will help make your content appear more often according to Facebook and other social media platform’s algorithms for how and when content is visible on a user’s timeline.

Thumbs Down Don’t: Be unprofessional.
Your social media is an extension of your practice, and it should present itself in that manner. It may be tempting to blow off some steam and vent your frustration online, but remember, anyone can see your posts.

Thumbs Up Do: Pay attention to feedback.
What types of content are your followers engaging with? What types of questions are they asking and what are they saying about your practice? Social media can be another great avenue to receive insights from your patients and even a way to market your practice. And in a time where over 2/3 of the population has a smartphone and patients are going online in unprecedented numbers when making healthcare decisions, having social media has come to be expected.

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.

Thumbs Down Don’t: Post too often.
If you’re posting ten times a day, your followers will likely get annoyed and stop following you. Most guides recommend a starting point of about one post per day, and adjusting according to demand. Generally, in the social media space, quality matters more than quantity.

Thumbs Up Do: Learn best practices for each platform.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs all have different guidelines for photo sizes, hashtags, and character length for posts. To reach your widest audience, you may need to adjust content appropriately across platforms. The downloadable graphic below shows how photo size can change drastically between platforms.

social media

Thumbs Down Don’t: Overload the page with text.
Photos and videos can help to keep readers engaged and interested. As with most aspects of social media, it all comes down to balance. A good balance of visuals and text can help to foster compelling content.

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.

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July 18th, 2017 Categories: Best Practices, featured

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5 Ways to Boost Response Rates to Patient Surveys

5 Tips for Boosting Patient Response Rates
1. Ask patients to complete the survey!

This one might seems obvious, but it is oftentimes overlooked. Building time into your routine to quickly inform patients they will be receiving a short survey about the quality of their care and asking them to complete it can go a long way in increasing response rates. For even more success, take a two-pronged approach, having both reception and providers give patients a friendly heads-up that they will be receiving patient surveys.

2. Give patients the “why?”

Think about the last time someone asked you to do something. Your first instinct is to immediately question why. Be sure to share, in-person, the purpose of the survey with your patients. By demonstrating that you are committed to your patients, not only are you increasing a patient’s perception of care, but you are also establishing a personal connection, which makes patients much more likely to complete a survey on your behalf.

“Our practice is committed to providing you the very best in healthcare. Your feedback is anonymous and helps us improve the patient experience for you and others.”

3. Confirm a patient’s mobile phone number and email address – every time

This one is critical. For new patients, obtain both a patients’ mobile phone number and email address. But what about an established patient? Have staff confirm each visit that the email and phone number listed is still a valid way to contact the patient, or ask for updated information. This simple-step helps solve issues related to invalid survey requests due to outdated or missing contact information.

4. Personalize survey requests with SurveyVitals provider photos, email and audio settings

Ensuring your provider photos are represented on the survey helps patient recognition, ensuring your team is getting the best feedback to improve. To upload your providers’ photos, navigate to the manage users page in the portal and click the photo to upload. Customized email signature block ensures your patients have confidence in the correspondence they’re receiving. Email signature blocks are customizable by organization and by division and are found within the Setup tab of your portal.

Finally, if you’re using the IVR mode, customize what your patients hear when they answer the phone. Starting with an opening, customizable by division or organization, provide your patients with a familiar voice asking for candid feedback. Don’t forget to remind them you have more to share at the end of the survey!
Need help or have questions? Contact your account manager or message us using the blue chat icon below to speak to a member of our support team.

Patient Survey Email Settings


5. Hang it on the wall!

Reinforce your message by displaying it visually as well. Download and use the free printable at your facility – hang it on the wall or include it with other forms provided to the patient as a reminder.

Download: 8.5 x 11 printable (PNG file here) Printable Handout SurveyVitals 2019

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October 11th, 2016 Categories: Patient Experience

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Best Practice – Alerts & Contact Me

Best Practices: Alerts & Contact Me

SurveyVitals Alerts

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.

OrthoTexas Logo

November 13th, 2015 Categories: Best Practices, Client Spotlight, featured, Product Features

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Best Practice – Assess Provider Engagement with Login Count

Best Practice Provider Engagement

Login Count

SurveyVitals® strives to offer a solution that helps providers and practices deliver exceptional patient care. An important step towards improvement is active engagement with the SurveyVitals system. But how do you know if your providers and divisions are engaged with the SurveyVitals patient feedback tool?

Engagement statistics can be found on the dashboard. Within the Provider Stats module, the Login Count quickly shows the number of times the provider has logged in over the past 30, 60, or 90 days. Sort from most to least engaged by clicking on the heading, and spot providers with No Login. Check out this post to learn why it’s so important for every provider to have a login for their portal.

Engagement Email

Engagement statistics are also delivered quarterly via email. Every 90 days, you’ll receive summary engagement data for your providers and divisions to keep you in the loop.

We suggest that providers log into their online portal at least once per week to check their percentile ranking, alerts, and trend lines. And now you have a quick way to assess the engagement level of the providers at your practice.

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October 7th, 2015 Categories: featured, Patient Experience, Product Features

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Best Practice – The Daily Huddle

Best Practice - The Daily Huddle

Lance Boyd

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.”

Summit Strategic Solutions

August 17th, 2015 Categories: Best Practices, Client Spotlight, featured

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Best Practice – Increasing Response Rates

Best Practice Response Rates

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.

Survey Poster

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.

Patient Satisfaction Score

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:

  1. Collect patient email and cell phone numbers
  2. Train your staff to ask for this information during intake
  3. Tell patients they’ll receive a survey shortly after their visit
  4. Upload patient data daily using the SurveyVitals API so surveys are sent shortly after the visit
  5. Give your providers access to their survey results
  6. Share your provider’s scores with patients if appropriate
  7. Turn on alerts and assign someone to promptly respond to contact requests

Have your own best practices to share? Submit them to us, and we’ll feature them in an upcoming post.

August 17th, 2015 Categories: Best Practices, Client Spotlight, Outpatient Practice, Patient Experience

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