Patients can give you service advice

Emailed surveys obtain better response

Some patients were frustrated because they had to provide similar documentation to two departments at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, reports Desember Brucker, manager of ambulatory registration services.

“This was confusing for patients,” Brucker says. “The other department and I were able to simplify the process for patients so that they only had to provide documentation once.”

All documentation is now provided to the ambulatory registration services department, and the other department relies on what was inputted into the registration system instead of asking patients for their own copies of documentation.

Brucker learned that patients were dissatisfied with the process from the department’s satisfaction surveys, which are now emailed to patients. “We started asking for email address as part of the normal registration process, and recently began emailing patient satisfaction surveys instead of mailing them,” she says. “We have seen a threefold increase in responses and comments.”

Patients want explanation

Brucker says that direct feedback from patients has been another good source of information about specific procedures and processes in the department.

“I encourage staff to pass feedback on to me or to have the patient speak to me if there are concerns about a process or policy,” she says. “This helps me pinpoint where there might be discrepancies in staff understanding of why we ask for information, so that we can do additional training.”

Patients sometimes wanted an explanation about why they were asked for particular information. For example, some patients wanted to know why registrars asked them for information about race and ethnicity. “Having staff clarify why they are asking for the information during their normal interview process helps,” says Brucker.

For example, to determine if a patient is eligible for Medicaid, staff need to ask if the patient is pregnant or a U.S. citizen.

“We preface these questions by saying something such as, ‘To determine potential eligibility for Medicaid programs, I need to ask if...’ instead of just asking what appears to be an invasive question,” says Brucker.