Stanford Health Care overhauls surveys

Stanford Health Care is giving its patient surveys a makeover, with revised questions and digital options for completion so patients can share feedback immediately.

Here are three ways the Palo Alto, Calif.-based system will change patient surveys and why, as told to Stanford School of Medicine Associate Editor Mandy Erickson:  

1. Survey questions will be rewritten with input from a social psychologist and professor of humanities at Stanford University. Alpa Vyas, Stanford Health Care's vice president and chief patient experience officer, said existing questions are vague and don't pertain to the patient's most recent experience. To revise, the system is conducting interviews with patients to identify what's most important to them and better understand how patients interpret questions. The new surveys will also be tailored to the patient's most recent encounter. 

2. Surveys will be shorter. "We will ask each patient fewer questions but still get the same amount of information," said Justin Ko, MD, the physician leader in safety, quality and performance improvement for the Department of Dermatology and the medical director of service excellence. "For example, if we have 20 questions we want to ask, we can ask half of the patients 10 of those questions and the other half the rest of the questions. With more surveys, and better response rates — which we expect with shorter surveys — we can get the same number of answers to each question."

3. Surveys will go out immediately, most by email and eventually by text. Some will be on paper and mailed. "We want more actionable data, in real time," said Ms. Vyas. "With the new system, we'll learn results from the surveys almost immediately, not weeks later." Stanford Health Care is the first academic medical center to use experience management platform Qualtrics for its entire patient experience program, including HCAHPS surveys. 

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