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Patient Experience Case Study - St. Francis Medical Center
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OSF St. FrancisOSF St Francis


Increasing Patient Survey Responses to Improve Patient Satisfaction Scores

What was the challenge, opportunity or issue faced?

OSF St. Francis Medical Center ambulatory operations uses a nationally recognized evaluation firm to monitor out-patient performance of its staff. During 2008 and 2009, OSF ambulatory patient satisfaction scores were not improving. Mean scores were locked in the 92% area. Traditional paper surveys, representing 25% of the patients, were mailed to patients' homes 30 days after they received treatment. They experienced a return rate of approximately 7%. With the small sample size and delay in receiving survey outcomes, OSF felt they were not getting the information they needed to address issues affecting the patient experience.

"We were charged with finding a way to increase these patient satisfaction scores but at the time could not find a solution” explained Rick Thomas, Executive Director of Ambulatory Services for OSF. An additional problem for outpatient visitors – many of whom visit the same care facility several times a month – was matching survey results to the specific visit. Given these issues, OSF Ambulatory services were looking at different approaches to effectively measure staff performance and implement the changes necessary to improve patient satisfaction scores.

What did you do to address it?

Thomas investigated the technology Customer Feedback Systems (CFS) offers for patient experience tracking. "We needed to increase the number of survey responses and generate faster response rates to more quickly respond to patient feedback,” Thomas said. "CFS let us immediately measure staff-patient interaction, which in turn, helped us more closely engage and energize our staff.”

OSF selected a comprehensive data intake, monitoring and reporting package based on the CFS Patient Exit Poll Touchpad. It consists of five separate questions that measure patient satisfaction on a scale of 1-5. Patients simply push the appropriate button to indicate their response while they are at the clinic. OSF placed the Exit Poll Touchpads near patient exits and locations where specific services are provided. The Exit Poll Touchpads require no staff to operate and are completely anonymous for the patient. While some surveys utilize pre-determined questions, OFS was able to develop their own question sets. This allowed them to focus on what is of value to them and their patients.

OSF used a single set of questions in order to provide common internal benchmarking across its diverse range of clinics. OSF management formed a committee to evaluate the information they needed which resulted in survey questions based on AIDET training they had received. With the support of CFS, they established guidelines for processing and acting on the results to achieve maximum benefit. CFS helped design user friendly display graphics for the Exit Poll Touchpads and provided training to OSF management and staff.

What were the outcomes?

Starting in 2008, Thomas directed all of his ambulatory care facilities to utilize the CFS system. To establish a baseline, OSF collected data for the first 6 months but did not act on the feedback. Compared to the mail-out surveys, OSF achieved a much higher response rate with the Exit Poll Touchpads. Responses exceeded 45% with over 10,000 patients per month using the Exit Poll Touchpads. Even the smallest clinics saw a dramatic increase in responses.

Management can see patient feedback by facility and by time of day and then link it to specific staffing. They are able to accurately pinpoint issues and address them immediately. This has improved customer service and generated more staff involvement. As a result of timely feedback, OSF Management is able to coach employees on improving patient service in a timely manner and reward employees for doing a good job.

The positive results in patient loyalty scores achieved through the program also drove improved mail-out survey scores that had remained stagnant during 2008 and 2009. The changes OSF implemented by responding to more useful and timely information also improved Net Promoter Scores. Scores improved from 86.0 in 2009 to 94.0 in 2011. During the same timeframe, OSF’s mean scores from the mail-out survey improved for the first time to 95%. OSF Management continues to see improved patient-staff experiences throughout their ambulatory facilities.

About OSF Saint Francis Medical Center
OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, licensed for 616 beds and with a medical staff of more than 800 physicians, is the fourth largest medical center in the state of Illinois. A major teaching affiliate of the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, OSF Saint Francis is the area’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, the highest level designated in trauma care. It serves as the resource hospital for emergency medical services for north central Illinois. OSF Saint Francis and Children’s Hospital of Illinois have been designated Magnet Status for excellence in nursing care since 2004.

Its Outpatient Ambulatory Care Unit operates over 30 clinics throughout Central Illinois. They offer a broad range of services, including surgery, breast biopsy, ultrasound and MRI. Patient satisfaction is a priority at OSF. It reflects how willing doctors and nurses are to listen, answer questions and explain treatments; how much time doctors spend with patients; and if the facilities are clean and well-maintained.

For more information regarding the Patient Exit Poll Touchpad, please contact:

Rick Thomas, RN, MBA
OSF St. Francis Medical Center
Executive Director, Ambulatory Services

Gautam Mahtani
Customer Feedback Systems
Loyalty StrategistTM and Co-Founder

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