Best practices for soliciting actionable patient feedback

Getting actionable information out of patients to redesign care delivery with a greater patient focus is trickier than it looks. Simply asking for feedback in an office setting won’t cut it.

As evidence mounts that there's a link between patient engagement and care quality, healthcare organizations have increasingly focused on improving the patient experience in their facilities.

When organizations seek to incorporate “the voice of the patient” in care delivery design, however, they run into problems getting unvarnished opinions, according to Sachin H. Jain, M.D., president and CEO of the CareMore Health System, an Anthem subsidiary.

Survey data may be easy to gather, but “it is often highly filtered when it is presented more broadly and can fail to provide necessary texture to drive decision-making,” he writes in a Forbes contributed post.

To cut through the filters, he offers a set of best practices gleaned from Caremore’s two-year initiative to incorporate the patient voice more formally in its organizational culture:

  • Engage patients outside the clinic. Clinical settings aren’t always the best place to solicit patient feedback, writes Jain, especially when they believe their ideas might ruffle feathers among medical staff. He suggests using informal settings where members of the leadership team can solicit feedback and suggestions from patients.
  • Use patient feedback to redesign clinical programs. Implementing programs based on patient input not only responds to patient need, but also reinforces the importance of the patient’s voice, according to Jain. Such changes can require continuous feedback from patients as organizations work to get them right, but that process further emphasizes an organization’s commitment to patient satisfaction.
  • Facilitate contact between management and patients. Nonclinical healthcare leaders may not regularly come in contact with patients unless forced to make the effort. Opening pathways of communication can help to inform high-level decision making, writes Jain. It also gives patients a platform for expressing both positive and negative feedback to somebody they know to be capable of doing something with that information.