When people are doing a great job, we tend to see comments reflecting that in our surveys. But, it also helps us focus on areas where we may need to do a little work.
Strategic Radiology (SR)’s proprietary patient satisfaction survey tool, RadVox™, marks its fourth year of service to SR member groups this year by helping members survey new markets, including hospital-based imaging center patients and MRI research site subjects.
The patient satisfaction tool was introduced in 2016 for members seeking to lower costs, increase survey flexibility, and benchmark against groups with shared values. Since then, RadVox has emailed three million-plus surveys in English and Spanish, primarily for SR members with imaging center assets, achieving an impressive 25% average response rate.
Late last year, RadVox emailed its first customer satisfaction survey for a hospital-based SR member, Huron Valley Radiology, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Since that first survey was sent, roughly 7,000 medical imaging patients per week have received emails soliciting feedback on their imaging experience at seven of the health system’s outpatient sites.
“The hospital was sold on the tool based on price, rate of return, and ease of implementation,” reports Theresa King, CPPM, CPC, Business Process Improvement Manager, HVR. “We all have found that RadVox reporting is comprehensive. Not only do we get meaningful and actionable information, but pulling the data for analysis is easy to do. In addition, although we are surveying for seven different locations, the dashboard access is limited by location, so results can be kept confidential as necessary.”
Unlike some patient satisfaction tools, RadVox supports customization of survey questions and branding. “We did take advantage of the ability to customize the survey,” noted Ms. King. “We are using it in seven hospital outpatient locations and were able to brand the surveys with our logo and the hospital’s logo.”
An Early Adopter
The Hill Medical Corporation, Pasadena, CA, an early adopter of the tool in 2016, is now a super-user. The practice uses RadVox to assess patient experience at its six imaging centers.
“It’s worked well for us, and SR continually enhances the product,” said Beth Filip, Director, Quality and Compliance. “Dave (Polmanteer) and Pam (Lopez), SR’s IT team, are working on developing sentiment analysis, using natural language processing to sift through written patient comments and categorize them as positive or negative. This will help us sort and understand the data much more quickly and prioritize what needs to be addressed.”
“We’ve used this tool in outpatient imaging centers, breast centers, and research facilities to assess patient satisfaction,” notes Dave Polmanteer, SR VP, Information Technology. “This same platform has the potential to be used to capture employee feedback, referring physician input, as well as patient satisfaction in other clinical settings.”
As currently implemented RadVox is integrated with the RIS so each patient visit triggers an email with a link to the survey the day after their visit. Some questions are open-ended, and some require patients to rank aspects of their experience on a scale of 1–5. The patient’s accession number stays with the survey and provides details including the type of exam/s the patient had and the facility they visited. “We have an excellent response rate, approximately 28%, and people respond with insightful feedback that is reviewed regularly by site managers,” Ms. Filip observes.
This year, the practice put in place a customer experience training program called “L.E.A.D.E.R. Impact” training to help employees manage customer interactions in a positive way and listen to concerns with empathy. “When people are doing a great job, we tend to see comments reflecting that in our surveys,” Ms. Filip says. “But, it also helps us focus on areas where we may need to do a little work.”
New Market, New Methods
A new use case that posed an interesting challenge for the survey emerged recently when a Hill client, a research group that owns an MRI scanner, expressed interest in assessing patient satisfaction. “They couldn’t have patient information tied to a name because the study is required to be blinded, so SR’s IT team helped pull their blinded data into our customer satisfaction database,” Ms. Filip explained. “That is how the QR code response mechanism got started: We needed to be able to survey patients without it being triggered by the RIS.”
Subjects at the research facility are presented with a QR code that they can scan on their phones to access the patient satisfaction survey. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the practice began using the technique as a no-touch method of digitally disseminating information to patients and referring providers to share details on the extra safety precautions implemented. As Los Angeles rebounds from COVID-19, use of QR Codes has expanded to informing referring physicians about new procedures or techniques introduced by the The Hill Medical radiologists.
The QR code process at the research facility was prompted by the need to blind patient data. While Ms. Filip is loath to sacrifice the ability to link patient response to an actual encounter, which is afforded by the email survey methodology, she is intrigued with the QR code’s potential to provide real-time data on patient experience, enabling a real-time intervention if needed.
“I worry about the lag between the patient’s visit, when the survey email goes out and when the patient eventually responds,” Ms. Filip notes. “Are we losing reactions and critical information in the moments after a visit? People go on with their busy lives after they leave the imaging center and forget to relay a great experience or key details about an issue. If we don’t have to be tied to the appointment schedule to trigger a survey , then possibly we will capture a few insights that we are currently missing.”
Because the use of the QR code does initiate an email, Ms. Filip speculates that an email to a designated front desk person might provide that ability to respond immediately to a complaint. She plans to roll out a test at a single facility and be ready to adapt based on what is learned.
Benchmarking Against Peers
A powerful benefit of RadVox is the ability to benchmark performance against like-minded peers to identify best practices. “We can see how we are doing in general as well as compared to other SR practices,” Ms. Filip says. “For instance, everyone struggles with wait times, and those scores are sometime lower than we would like. It’s easy to write it off as something that can’t be improved, but within SR, you can reach out and ask ‘Hey, how is everyone doing this? What’s working for your practice?’”
“Even though we don’t know specifically which score is tied to which group, the data provides an opportunity to recognize when we are falling behind so we can compare best practices in a setting with groups we know are aligned with our goals. You take it more seriously because you know these groups and what their goals are,” Ms. Filip notes. “It is a benefit unique to SR and RadVox.”
Hub is the monthly newsletter published for the membership of Strategic Radiology practices. It includes coalition and practice news as well as news and commentary of interest to radiology professionals.
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