Improving patient satisfaction – How Toyota would do it?

Survey rage

Measuring patient satisfaction and using surveys is getting increasingly popular in US healthcare. If you work for a hospital, physician practice or even a private clinic, you would have become familiar with some form of the patient satisfaction survey or another. If you are not then look online and chances are you are already being rated, ranked, scored and reported by someone online. Late last year America’s largest health benefits company(Well Point), engaged Zagat Survey to develop a new online survey tool. Even, Google is supposedly working on an online rating app.

Making sense out of surveys

But how do you balance these scoring systems , with more meaningful assessments of care quality and competence? Patient safety guru Bob Watcher, who coined the term ‘hospitalist’ says that a balanced approach is more important than a single peephole. What he means by this is that, it’s important to look at a number of different factors(such as hospitalization rates, acuity etc) while determining patient satisfaction. We will save the discusssion on what such a survey might look like for another day.For now, let us focus on how to choose and use existing internal and external patient satisfaction systems. Let us do that by asking a hypothetical question ….

“How would Toyota manage patient satisfaction ?”

Toyota management realizes the importance of accessing the “Voice of the Customer” . Its organizational structure has a customer relations department that handles customer satisfaction (i.e., patient surveys in our case) and customer relations (i.e., employee training and incentives, patient assistance center, and dispute resolution).

If you aren’t listening to your patients, you can’t have all the business attributes that provide them good care and value. However, if you aren’t using this information to create change, then don’t bother listening
Toyota might establish a customer survey system that measures patient satisfaction with the process of care, the delivery experience, the service experience, and clinical quality. Based on the results of these surveys, they would develop your strategic plans to improve customer service.
Deparment/Service line Reporting– Summary evaluations and specific, but anonymous, customer comments would be shared with the departments. Departments/specialities would now monitor their own progress, which puts less pressure on the measures
Elminitate inter department competition– Gaming occurs in nearly every system when two departments scores are compared. We all know how Inpatient units and Emergency departments often game the survey system to show inflated scores in hospitals. So Toyota would establish acceptable levels of performance and eliminate making distinctions of performance above that level.
Telephone Surveys– Telephone surveys would be conducted to determine initial satisfaction with the care process. Standards for conducting the phone survey and processing the data would also been established.