Viewpoint: Why patient experience measurements must enter the digital age

As digital transformation continues to accelerate in healthcare, patient experience measurement and engagement must also turn to digital, according to leaders at the National Committee for Quality Assurance. 

In a Dec. 7 op-ed for Health Affairs, Sarah Hudson Scholle, DrPH, research and analysis vice president at NCQA; Margaret O'Kane, founder and president of NCQA; and Paul Cotton, federal affairs director for NCQA; explain why the agency's Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, the current patient experience measurement, needs to be updated for the new digital age.

"We agree that current patient experience measurement has its shortcomings. For example, CAHPS has seen low and declining response rates due to factors such as survey length and the fact that they are mostly paper-based and conducted by mail or telephone," the co-authors wrote.

CAHPS response rates are now below 40 percent in Medicare Advantage and below 20 percent for Medicaid and commercial health plans. There is widespread and growing agreement about the need to develop better tools to gauge patient experience. The co-authors point to digital tools already readily available as potential options.

Transitioning from traditional paper surveys to modern, digital survey tools can make it easier for participants to respond via smartphone, tablet, laptop or other electronic devices through websites, email and other tools. Switching to digital allows for faster and more targeted results, and quick online experience ratings are the standard in almost all industries today, according to the report.

"Growing use of digital health tools further signals the need for patient experience measurement to evolve into digital modalities," the co-authors wrote. "Digital health tools can also improve the process of identifying populations for whom feedback is most needed, including high users, people with multiple chronic conditions, negatively affected by social determinants of health, and those who have filed appeals and grievances."

Click here to view the full report.


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