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Faster Feedback Through Real-Time Patient Surveys

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Women taking survey on phone; Real-time patient surveys
Three years ago, Laura Woebbeking, patient experience director at UnityPoint Health – Waterloo, was traveling back and forth between her hotel and the venue hosting a patient experience conference. She, like so many of us, opted to use Uber to help shuttle her to-and-from locations. After one of her trips, a survey was sent to her phone.

“As soon as you’re done with the ride, you get an instant, real-time survey,” Woebbeking says. “It’s super short, and Uber drivers are held accountable, based on what riders share. My driver loved it because he had an opportunity to make a difference with the feedback. That’s when it hit me: we need to Uber-ize health care.”

Since then, Woebbeking and other UnityPoint Health leaders, like Kendra Gustafson, executive director of strategic analytics, have been working to modify how the health system collects feedback.

“We know our patients don’t like long surveys, and that’s what we – and many other health systems – have used. But when you do the same things over and over, you can’t necessarily expect improvement. By exploring real-time patient feedback options, we’re headed in the right direction, creating opportunities to address service recovery faster,” Woebbeking says.

Currently, Waterloo, Quad Cities, Madison and UnityPoint at Home and UnityPoint Clinic have participated in a proof of concept, where a patient receives a short, web-based assessment via text message or email about an hour after receiving their care. The most questions the pilot surveys include is seven, with the goal being five or less.

The patient’s feedback is received instantly, allowing care teams to track input on dashboards and have opportunity to reach out immediately to patients to fix something within their control.

“By the time we get the data from mailed surveys, it’s often too late. Some surveys are sent four to six weeks after a patient is seen in the hospital or more than a month when someone visits a clinic. Actionable, real-time feedback allows us to improve care and celebrate team members, too,” Gustafson says.

Woebbeking and Gustafson have used numerous prospective vendors throughout this pilot. What they’ve learned is that they’re on the front-end of change.

“We’re definitely on the early end of this process for health care. Since we started researching and exploring vendors, vendors keep calling because they’re excited about building their product and working with us,” Woebbeking says.

While there’s still work to do, Gustafson says this initiative ultimately comes down to listening to who we care about most: people.

“We’re working to offer an easier, more convenient way to provide feedback because people’s experience really does matter. We’re taking what they say and doing something with it.”