What happens when you submit feedback?
STEGH's Best Kept Secret: The True Impact of Patient Feedback
If you have ever spent time in a hospital waiting room, chances are you’ve seen some kind of patient feedback form available to be filled out. But have you ever wondered how many of those surveys go directly into the recycling bin as soon they’ve been submitted? Because, honestly, I did too. That was, until I started interning at St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH). I don’t know if all hospitals take their patients’ feedback as seriously as they do at STEGH, but as an outsider with an inside view, I am in admiration of the behind-the-scenes work done every day to help improve patient experience at STEGH. For Patient Experience Specialist, Dana Borrie, part of that behind-the-scenes work is evaluating every single Patient Experience Survey submitted to the hospital—around 350 every month. That’s more than 4,000 a year.
Curious about the true impact of patient feedback at STEGH, I sat down with Dana. Patient Experience Surveys are available in every unit in the hospital, she explained. The surveys feature five quick questions asking patients to rate the level of care they received, if they were able to easily find the right department, if they were treated with respect and compassion, if staff introduced themselves, and if follow-up care instructions were provided. There is also space available on the reverse of the form to recommend areas for improvement or recognize something or someone that made the experience positive.
Every month, Dana collects the completed surveys from the units around the hospital and records the data from each individual form into an electronic database. Having a record of the feedback helps STEGH recognize areas for improvement within the hospital by evaluating trends overtime. But trends over time are not the only thing STEGH uses this feedback for. For each question on the feedback form, the responses from the past month are put into visual charts by unit. For each unit, there is another chart that compares the feedback from previous months, as well as one that compares the unit to the rest of the hospital. These visuals are all combined into unique printouts for each unit and delivered back to the teams on the floor within the first couple days of the month. The teams in each unit then use the printouts to discuss the feedback from the previous month, determine what strategies have been working, and set new goals to further improve the patient care they provide.
The process of tracking and measuring patient experiences at STEGH and the time and effort dedicated to applying this feedback to practice is part of what makes STEGH so remarkable. Even though it might not be on display for the community, the feedback process behind the scenes at STEGH is what helps the hospital truly uphold its promise to be innovative and accountable. Not only this, but having individual teams evaluate feedback data every month, means you might even see the impact of your feedback as early as your very next visit.
From your pen, to Dana’s hands, to teams across the hospital, your feedback really does make a difference at STEGH. Your feedback is the key to upholding and even further increasing the health care excellence that STEGH provides. When you provide feedback, your hospital listens. So next time you see a Patient Experience Survey at STEGH, you know the secret—that that form really is important, and that your feedback is valuable and powerful.
Written by Emily Beckenhauer,
Communication Intern, St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital
April 20, 2021