ASCs With Unique Patient Satisfaction Initiatives: 3 Innovative Programs
"Patient satisfaction is important to ASCs because it can reflect issues not only with communication — such as listening to patients — but also with ASC efficiency, and of the most importance, clinical issues," says Naomi Kuznets, senior director and general manager for the AAAHC Institute for Quality Improvement.
Orthopedic Surgery Center of Orange County (Newport Beach, Calif.). At the Orthopedic Surgery Center of Orange County, a subsidiary of Hoag Orthopedic Institute, all the patients receive a hard copy of a satisfaction survey in their discharge packet with a return address and stamped envelope to encourage responses, according to Gabrielle White, RN, CASC, executive director of ambulatory services and network development at Hoag Orthopedic Institute and founder of an independent consulting company.
"Approximately 35 percent are returned," she says. "We used to send out surveys to 50 percent of our patients, chosen randomly each quarter. That was a lot more work and much less return. Now we include a survey for 100 percent of patients in the DC package. We have doubled our return surveys. The comments help us in excellence in service and care. Over the years when we see a common theme for suggestions or complaints, the teams look at their processes to make changes wherever they can to continue to improve."
The survey includes 14 questions related to the patients' care at the center, for example, the questions are centered on wait times, communication from staff, professionalism of staff, billing department and care provided by physicians. Most of the suggestions provided by patients are about wait times or communication about delays — things that matter to the patient when all other outcomes are positive.
"Patient-centered care should be a big part of care delivery in any healthcare setting. We are providing a service and the patient and family is the customer," says Ms. White. "We need the customer feedback to know how we are doing and where we may need to make some adjustments to give results the customer is looking for. Having great outcomes from a procedure is an expectation all patients have, going beyond that and providing patient-centered care that addresses what they want to make the experience more satisfying, and learning from the customer feedback, can make the experience exceptional. It's good for everyone."
Opened in 1999, the Orthopedic Surgery Center of Orange County is accredited by the Accreditation Association of Ambulatory Health Care and provides surgical services for sports injuries, shoulder injuries, fractures, hand conditions and spine care. One of the ASC-wide goals for the year is to maintain satisfaction scores above 90 percent.
"Patient satisfaction is the responsibility of everyone in the ASC from the first contact in the business office in the days prior to surgery, to the day of surgery, to the postoperative calls that follow and everyone in between," says Ms. White.
Laser Spine Institute (Tampa, Fla.). "One major initiative we have implemented for patient satisfaction is a complete overhaul of our patient discharge process," says Jason Jones, vice president of patient experience at Laser Spine Institute. "We believe that no guest should leave your doors confused about what their role is or what they need to do next. Education of the discharge process and empowerment of the patient and caregiver is an individualistic strategy."
Patients told the surgery center that they didn't just want a pamphlet or paperwork detailing the next steps, according to Mr. Jones. They said that before surgery, they wanted someone to personally walk them through what the discharge process would be like and to discuss post-surgical concerns or questions. Before a patient leaves Laser Spine Institute, they will have an individual discussion to ensure they have their questions answered and feel empowered about their role as a recovering patient or caregiver, says Mr. Jones.
"We have seen a 10-point increase in top box patient satisfaction scores over the last 24 months and a decrease in post-surgical calls from patients or caregivers regarding their recovery process," says Mr. Jones. "Our goal is to build trust with our patients so that they feel safe sharing their feedback and perspectives on how we could be better for them."
Laser Spine Institute includes five surgery centers — Southeast Center in Tampa, Fla.; West Center in Scottsdale, Ariz.; Northeast Center in Philadelphia; Midwest Center in Oklahoma City; and Southwest Center in Houston, Texas. At the institute, physicians use minimally invasive techniques to treat numerous spine conditions, such as bone spurs, bulging disc, canal stenosis, facet syndrome, herniated disc, spinal stenosis and spondylitis.
"ASCs have had the advantage of being nimble enough to change processes quickly to meet the needs of the patient," says Mr. Jones. "This has given Laser Spine Institute a small advantage in creating a high quality patient experience. With CMS distributions now tied to patient satisfaction, hospitals are investing large percentages of their budgets upgrading facilities and investing in training in order to create a better patient experience. ASCs typically do not have the ability to invest in facility overhauls or large-scale technologies to match what hospitals are doing. ASCs will need to focus on building a much stronger personal connection and experience for each of their patients and guests. If you are not committed or focused on making your patient experience more patient-centered, you are already behind the curve."
Slocum Surgery Center (Eugene, Ore). Slocum Surgery Center has initiated several patient satisfaction projects including improvement of patient experience and time with surgeons postoperatively and improving the patient insurance process. The center continues to measures outcomes from these projects as a part of its quality assurance program and has seen gradual improvement, says Shelley Yuva, administrator of Slocum Surgery Center. "It helps us see our center through their eyes as a patient," she says. "We, as employees, do this day-in and day-out and have a very different functional assessment."
A focus on patient satisfaction allows ASC leaders the opportunity to identify specific areas from improvement, create a valuable resource when negotiating payer contracts, strengthen the one-on-one patient experience and improve industry visibility, say Ms. Yuva.
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