Taking action on feedback: How St Vincent’s Health Australia made responding to patients part of the every day
Although healthcare has been making investments in digital innovation for some time, patient experience programs are often still heavy with paper surveys delivered by mail. When the feedback returns weeks later, the care teams have moved on, the data lacks resonance with those it is meant to serve, and patients feel unseen and unheard.
But that is all changing.
Patient experience is now guiding successful transformations within the healthcare industry. PwC ranks ‘adopting a consumer centric mindset’ as one of the top steps providers need to take in their transformation, while research from Deloitte highlights better consumer satisfaction and engagement, and improved quality of care and patient outcomes as the top two outcomes from such programs.
This shift is empowering organisations to not only invest in new technologies enabling them to manage and improve their patient experience, but also to create processes that allow them to deliver services at the speed, scale, and quality patients now expect.
One provider leading the way in this new era of healthcare is St Vincent’s Health Australia (SVHA) - the country’s biggest not-for-profit health and aged care provider. With a network of private, public, and aged care facilities across Australia, SVHA provides more than 1 million episodes of care for patients each year.
Over the past 3 years, SVHA has increasingly scaled its patient experience program to better listen, understand, and act on the changing needs of its patients. In that time, the volume of respondents rating SVHA hospitals 9 or 10 for patient experience has consistently improved, and outperformed the Australian and international average.
“Key to the improvements to the experience at SVHA has been the ability to amplify the voice of patients, residents, and families, and use those voices to guide staff on how they can consistently deliver and improve the experience offered,” said Jane Evans, Group Manager for Improvement and Experience at SVHA.
For providers now embarking on similar patient experience programs, SVHA prioritized these four actions: listening to feedback at scale in real-time, empowering frontline problem solving, optimizing operational efficiencies, and tracking performance over time.
Listen to feedback at scale in real time
The central pillar for SVHA’s patient experience transformation was the adoption of more contemporary patient feedback tools, explained Evans.
“When it came to selecting technology to enable a new patient experience program at SVHA, there were three core requirements we wanted to address. The platform would need to be capable of providing timely, streamlined and accessible data; access to raw response data for analysis; and innovations such as surveying in languages other than English.”
Based on the initial success with Qualtrics, SVHA is scaling its patient experience program across the network.
Empowering frontline problem solving
The true impact of SVHA’s patient experience program is not simply the feedback being captured. Rather, it is the ability to take meaningful action on the issues impacting people the most.
“The data alone, and its continuous nature, does not enable improvement. It is the facility leads working with senior management and frontline teams who champion the program, foster ongoing engagement, and work with staff to pinpoint and act on improvements,” said Evans.
To empower workers on the frontline, every ward has access to visual, real-time dashboards showcasing key patient data, including ward, date, length of stay, and demographic. Simultaneously, the patient experience program automatically notifies users when negative feedback is received or if responses are below the target range. Equipped with this knowledge, the healthcare teams can rapidly identify and respond to issues as they arise. Seemingly simple, the ability to act in the moment makes the difference between resolving issues today versus hearing about them weeks later on a paper survey.
“With the insights and capabilities we now have, nurses can quickly identify poor experiences to try to resolve them immediately. Reviewing and responding to feedback is now part of everyday practice at SVHA, which is helping drive continuous improvements across the network. There are more than 2,000 logins to the patient experience platform every month, reflecting the value of the data and the action it’s driving,” said Evans.
Optimizing operational efficiencies
Twice a year SVHA also uses the technology to conduct The Australian Hospital Patient Experience Question Set (AHPEQS) - a standardized framework set by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare to measure the patient experience across Australia.
Incorporating AHPEQS into the patient experience program at SVHA is an impactful and cost-effective approach to improving the patient experience. Alongside capturing more patient feedback to guide and inform its service delivery, insights captured through AHPEQS are helping create a consistent and improved level of healthcare across Australia.
Measuring and demonstrating improvements and trends over time
Two key features of SVHA’s patient experience program are benchmarking, and the ability to continually track performance. This is because being able to identify the impact of the programs being implemented is helping inform future program investments, capabilities, and expansions.
“Being able to pinpoint the drivers of patient experience over time enables SVHA to identify the areas to focus on when they matter most,” said Evans.
The evolution of patient experience
“Continually looking for ways to bring insights together to build a more complete picture of our patients will allow us to deliver ongoing, impactful improvements for them - and our teams - whether it’s following up with patients who have had a poor experience, identifying recurring themes across the network, or celebrating team success to bolster staff morale and satisfaction,” commented Evans.
While SVHA is still early on its journey to transform the patient experience, the positive and proven results achieved show the group is moving in the right direction. And despite the initial success, Evans believes that their investment supports something even more precious…the core mission of healthcare. “After all,” she says, “Person-centered care is the business we’re in.”
Learn more about Experience Management for Healthcare
May 27, 2022