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While patient satisfaction surveys will give rehab facilities a general idea of trends and quality as perceived by patients, they may miss some specific concerns about the way a particular therapist provides care. Provena St. Joseph Physical Rehab & Sports Injury Center in Joliet, IL, found a way to identify patients’ precise issues and concerns through the use of a computer survey. The tool has a higher response rate than the standard patient satisfaction tool the facility previously used, says Paul Lagomarcino, PT, MBA, director of rehab services for the hospital-based rehab unit, which has 28 beds.
Rehab patients and family are reminded by a therapist or front desk staff to take a few seconds to fill out the questionnaire before they leave the outpatient facility, says Deb Andreason, marketing coordinator for the facility. They approach a small machine that looks like a gum dispenser and punch in their responses. Those answers are saved in a computer ,where they can be tabulated and compiled. No one knows which patient made a particular response. The machines, costing $1,500-$2,000, are the chief expense in using the Opinion Meter tool. The hospital selects its own questions to use on the machines.
Although the facility’s previous patient satisfaction tool could be anonymous, the patients had to hand-write their responses and hand it to someone face-to-face and that made it less confidential, Andreason says.
Lagomarcino believes the tool works better than mailed surveys, as well. "It’s more confidential than a mailer, where you might get only 20% response rate and that could be only the 20% that likes you or hates you, so you don’t get the response of those in the middle," Lagomarcino says.
Also, the nine-question tool gives patients an opportunity to rate and name their particular therapists. For example one question asks, "How satisfied are you with the way your treatment was explained?" The respondent is given four answer options, ranging from very satisfied to very unsatisfied.
Each month the responses are tabulated for each therapist, giving management information about how each therapist is doing with patient satisfaction — information can be used to identify problems that can be addressed quickly through meetings with supervisors and sometimes through additional training and education. "I’ve been able to counsel certain therapists," Lagomarcino says. "If someone is having more than their share of issues, then I can look at them individually over a course of time and see how they’ve improved." The tool makes it very easy for supervisors to pinpoint problems and create solutions that will fix exactly what’s wrong, he adds.
For example, one therapist might have a number of patients who rate his ability to explain therapy as unsatisfactory. A supervisor could meet with the therapist and discuss better ways for the therapist to communicate with patients, Andreason says. "We’re not using this information for performance ratings or raises," she adds. "We’re just giving feedback to improve customer satisfaction."
• Paul Lagomarcino, PT, MBA, Director of Therapy Services, Provena St. Joseph Physical Rehab & Sports Injury Center, 2400 Glenwood Ave., Joliet, IL 60435-5474. Telephone: (815) 741-7114. Fax: (815) 725-6997.
• Deb Andreason, Marketing Coordinator, Provena St. Joseph Physical Rehab & Sports Injury Center, 2400 Glenwood Ave., Joliet, IL 60435-5474. Telephone: (815) 741-7114. Fax: (815) 725-6997.