The One Thing Every Hospital Can Do to Improve Operations and Reduce Costs
SMS surveys can provide valuable information for hospital service providers.
But understanding how and why is important to making sure that surveys are an effective means of improving hospital and patient relations.
Do hospitals need to be competitive?
Hospitals and medical care clinics face competition just like any other service provider.
With the emergence of walk-in emergency care and standard care clinics, hospitals face even more competition from privately-owned clinics and franchises.
Patients looking to save money or get fast and simple service have more options than ever before. They can walk into a clinic and get a student vaccination or have a suspicious mole looked at on the day, instead of waiting weeks for an appointment with their PCP.
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Hospitals need to be competitive in order to get their market share of preventative and emergency care receipts. They can't afford not to.
Why do hospitals need to be competitive?
In this day of online reviews and forums, patients talk often and freely about the quality of care they receive from hospitals.
From a mother giving birth to a family member visiting a cardiac patient, online hospital reviews are heartfelt, honest, and at times, scathing.
Hospitals need to be competitive and to try their best to make every patient visit successful in terms of patient satisfaction and medical outcomes.
The reason is that it's highly likely the experience will be posted online and seen in either a negative or positive light.
The Power of Surveys
Patient surveys, when done well, can help both hospitals and patients.
When a patient or community survey is done, there's an inherent assumption that the hospital cares about giving quality care that they are seeking the opinions of those who are most impacted by the service, and that in light of survey answers, they will make necessary adjustments.
One hospital that conducted a successful community survey is Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital in Hamilton, Montana.
They discovered that their emergency room care left room for improvement, according to the survey results. They subsequently addressed the issues, and residents seem to appreciate the changes.
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Had this hospital not bothered to ask the community what they thought of their services, it's likely that the dissatisfaction would have continued. It's also likely that this hospital's competition would have taken up some of their profits.
In this case study, both patients and the hospital benefited from the survey.
Rules Governing Hospital Surveys
HIPAA, of course, has something to say about hospital surveys.
As the following article looks at, it's perfectly okay for hospitals to conduct SMS surveys to satisfy customers as long as they are quality assessment and improvement activities surveys.
There are a few more rules regarding any surveys that hospitals conduct, however.
Patients must be told ahead of time that personal information will be connected with survey answers.
Also, patients must be told when the hospital intends to try to collect the information. There may be additional restrictions on hospital surveys, according to individual state regulations.
As long as hospitals abide by HIPAA rules and respect patients' rights, there is no reason why surveys can't be an integral part of every hospital's growth and services plan.
About the author: Kate Supino writes extensively about best business practices.
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