Patient experience surveys can guide low performers

The nation's largest statewide patient experience survey found that variability among Minnesota clinics can offer an opportunity to learn from high scorers about revamping care delivery, the state health department said in a research announcement.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) collected more than 230,000 patient-completed surveys from 651 clinics to make apples-to-apples comparisons across care systems regarding access to care, provider-patient communication, interactions with staff and patient satisfaction.

The CG-CAHPS (Clinician and Group Surveys-Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores, based on September 2012 through November 2012 data, showed varying performance in the four categories. For example, while 90 percent of patients reported top-level provider communication, the scores for individual clinics ranged from 66 percent to 98 percent. Similarly, the results showed 78 percent gave their provider a top score of 9 or 10, while at individual clinics, providers who rececived a top rating ranged from 47 percent to 93 percent.

Despite variation among individual clinics, overall patients gave Minnesota clinics good marks for timeliness of care, how well clinicians communicate, and satisfaction with providers and staff.

"These initial results are just the beginning of what we can learn from the data," Stefan Gildemeister, who directs MDH's patient experience survey initiative, said Wednesday in the announcement. "We are eager to better understand how well patient experience relates to improved clinical outcomes and performance as high-value, efficient providers."

Moreover, the patient experience survey results can offer lessons learned for lower-performing clinics as well as identify areas of care delivery they should move up the priority list, the Pioneer Press reported.

"Having these data be there, transparent and available will help (patient choice) of clinics," state Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger told the Pioneer Press. "For providers, this information creates a statewide benchmark that they can use to learn about their strengths and weaknesses, to help them improve the quality of care and the patient experience."

For more:
- here's the announcement
- read the Pioneer Press article