Wound Care Articles and Insights

Patient Satisfaction: Keep it Simple

Patient Satisfaction: Keep it Simple

This post is one of a series discussing patient satisfaction and a follow-up on the introduction of the new program we started piloting in the spring of 2017.

It may be a case of fortunate timing, but the subject of reviews has been in the news (well, my news) quite a bit lately: Netflix just dumped the 5-star review for the old Siskel and Ebert thumbs up/thumbs down. Amazon made some waves when they announced that they have started to identify and pursue legal action against firms that specialize in review fraud. Uber — a company that tests PT Barnum’s theory about bad publicity to almost comical lengths — makes news regularly when a terrible person does terrible things (unknowingly on video, of course) and with the threat of a bad review used as leverage.

One of early questions that came up when our idea for the Happiness Index was pitched as a measure of patient satisfaction was: “you think that’s enough?” My answer, until we get data that says otherwise, is yes.

To begin, there are benefits to simplifying the data that’s collected:

  • A simple choice of positive, neutral, or negative tends to force the participant to make a snap judgement and not overthink the question.
  • Long surveys — think 25 questions with 5-10 possible options each — generally have poor response rates, and perhaps worse, are likely to be self-selecting for responders on the extremes (really happy or really unhappy).
  • Conversely, surveys that that are short and easy to fill out are far more likely to be completed.
  • Data that is simple enough can also be collected at the point of service, so the responder does not have time to reflect on and potentially misremember their experience.

A major consideration in using the single measure for Patient Happiness was the realization that metric alone should give us almost all the information we need:

If the happiness numbers are trending upwards or are already high, then the clinic can continue operating in the same manner and we can be confident our patients are satisfied. Everyone can keep calm and carry on.

If numbers dip or begin to trend downwards, those changes will be immediately apparent and the director can investigate (e.g. look for patterns in the data, address known issues that may have been neglected, or if all else fails: ask) and resolve any issues and watch the happiness numbers for improvement.

There are some hard and complicated aspects to running a wound center. Patient satisfaction should not be one of them. Remember: “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”