9 Tips to Make Patient Experience Data Meaningful for Clinicians and Staff

By Jeff Morris, MD, MBA, FACS, FRCS(C)

Even under the best of circumstances, clinicians and staff have a difficult time understanding and finding value in CG CAHPS, HCAHPS, OAS CAHPS and other patient experience reports, which can be “data rich, information poor.” As a physician, I have found there are several things that leaders can do to present clinicians and staff with meaningful and actionable data related to patient experience. These are my top nine tips for tailoring your patient experience reporting for a healthcare audience.

  1. Always connect the dots to the "why" at the core of the patient experience - enhanced reputation, greater market share, increased reimbursement, decreased liability risk, improved clinical outcomes and reduced burnout.
  2. Accept that the data may not be perfect. There will always be anomalies, but work to consider what you can learn from it anyway.
  3. Present a substantial amount of data to show trends rather than positive or negative “blips”. A rolling 12-month report should have an adequate number of responses to ensure the information presented can be tracked and trended appropriately. Be sure to exclude reports that have a low "n" (much more likely with data for short periods) that may skew data.
  4. Present data by service date rather than receipt date to better identify trends and the impact of interventions. When you look at the data this way, you can more readily see a connection between the date and time of a patient’s service and their perception of care.
  5. Present limited data in a meaningful manner. Composite data (such as “willingness to recommend") is of little value as it is made up of many elements and, unless dissected, does not give direction as to what to address to improve the overall composite. Focus on a specific element (especially in high priority/high correlation areas) that you are working on improving (like "explained clearly" or "dignity and respect”). Often, less is more, and clinicians and staff benefit most by seeing a simple report that is easy to decipher and respond to.
  6. Offer evidence-based resources and training that positively impact specific elements of the patient experience. Studer Group has a plethora of resources available on our website related to patient experience. We also have several patient experience books (“The HCAHPS Handbook,” “The CG CAHPS Handbook” and “The OAS CAHPS Compendium”), expert speakers, and healthcare conferences that can help healthcare professionals connect the dots between their everyday work and the patient experience.
  7. Develop internal coaches or champions to lead the data education initiatives and to be personal resources to their peers.
  8. Be transparent and proactive about sharing data. Remember that data transparency drives performance. As hospitals, medical practices and providers are increasingly impacted by value-based reimbursement models, it is important that clinicians and staff have some “skin in the game” and are held accountable for the part they play in patient experience.
  9. Offer opportunities and resources for coaching for improvement. When the data identifies individuals who are struggling with certain patient experience metrics, internal coaches or champions can shadow those individuals to provide immediate feedback on their performance. Having low performers shadow high performers can also be a valuable exercise.

When the data you present to healthcare professionals is meaningful and actionable, it increases their buy-in of change initiatives designed to improve patient experience. To get your team on board, make sure that the data they are reviewing and for which they are held accountable is accurate, easy to understand, and tailored to their individual performance.

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