Patient Satisfaction: The Problem with Patient Surveys

So there I was going through the mail and I happen upon a letter from a restaurant I dined at a few months ago, Le Nez Du Cochon—the nose of the pig—go figure, it is French.  Enclosed is a survey; twenty-seven questions.  Tell me if you know where this is headed.

The questions were grouped in a number of areas; food quality, communication with the wait staff, noise, and cleanliness of the restroom.  I completed the survey, but I was only guessing at my responses because it had been so long since my meal. What I do recall however were things that the survey did not cover.

I made my reservation online and that the restaurant had no record of my reservation.  I even remember calling the restaurant to confirm my reservation, which they did over the phone and then somehow had no record of it.

The directions I copied from their website were wrong. I told the maître de I had requested a table by the window and was promptly seated by the kitchen door.  When I went to pay for the meal I was overcharged because they brought me a wine different from the one we ordered.  The manager explained that since we had drunk the wine there was no way he could change the bill to reflect my order.

Needless to say, the directions to return home were also wrong.  My experience was poor from the moment I initiated contact until and after I arrived home.

But the survey did not ask anything related to the parts of my experience that related to whether I would return or not.  Having clean restrooms and a polite wait-staff did not overcome the rest of my experiences.

We all have experiences.  The problem is that not all of the experiences are satisfactory.

What hospitals fail to notice is clean restrooms, and scoring well on the other twenty-six HCAHPs questions are not reflective of a patient’s total experience, and they offer zero input as to the level of satisfaction a patient or prospective patient—a buyer of healthcare—had on the web or by phone.

Hiring coaches does nothing to improve the interaction on the web or the phone.

Buying data does less than nothing.  Putting those two efforts in place and thinking you have a handle on patient experience is as futile as counting backwards from infinity twice.

Patient satisfaction: A remarkable experience for every patient every time…on every device.

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