11:31 AM

Patient Family Surveys: How They Make a Difference

By Heather Duge

Jan Althouse photoImproving care is always top of mind for Jan Althouse, Patient Survey Program Manager. More than 3,600 comments come in from the Press Ganey patient family surveys each month, and Jan reads every one of them before sharing with leaders on the units. Eighty percent of the comments are positive ones – a testament to the dedication of Cook Children’s employees.

“I see myself as the voice of the patient families,” Jan said. “I want them to know we hear what they’re saying and we’re going to do something about it.” 

Employees and families who visit Cook Children’s providers receive a survey soon after their appointment and have 14 days to complete it. The survey includes 20 to 30 questions depending on the area they visited and takes a couple of minutes to complete. Scores are used to set system goals based on the survey question relating to the likelihood of recommending Cook Children’s or their specific physician. Thirty-five percent of the responses include comments or recognition of staff.

Each survey has two open-ended questions asking if there is anyone they would like to recognize and if they had a good or bad experience. Jan watches for trends, such as an employee who is repeatedly recognized and makes sure the manager receives feedback. For areas such as Child Life that receive positive comments every day, Jan sends a monthly report to the manager. Event reports are submitted based on comments related to safety issues or medication to further investigate these issues. 

Every Monday, managers and directors of areas mentioned in comments receive a weekly comment report. Many units such as the Lab include positive comments from the survey in newsletters, post the comments on their bulletin board or send emails to the team. 

The survey has highlighted some issues that otherwise may have been missed. For example, after the Dodson Specialty Clinic expansion, Jan saw comments about problems with parking. She sent them to Missy Staben, Director, Experience Elevation, who shared the feedback with the communications workgroup. The group quickly brainstormed ways to resolve the issues by sending specific parking text messages and adding signage. 

Every Employee Can Make a Difference 
Over the past 10 years, responses to the surveys have declined. 

“These days everyone wants you to fill out a survey and about 20 percent of the patient families opt out to receive future surveys,” Jan said. 

Jan says they also want to be sure employees who bring their kids to Cook Children’s have a voice. Employees whose children are patients have a unique perspective as they see patient care from both sides. 

“They can offer valuable information specific to processes and things a parent may not pick up on as their expectations are different,” Jan said. 

Jan and her team are rolling out the “We’re Listening” awareness campaign to encourage employees to talk with patient families about the survey. Through CareShare, the employee incentive program, if the hospital meets its goal of 86 percent on September 30 for the loyalty score by responding positively to the question about how likely they would be to recommend Cook Children’s, full-time employees will receive $500 and part-time employees will receive $250. CareShare is for all areas except CCHP which is based on a different survey. CareShare eligible employees are those up to the manager level. 

“Every employee at Cook Children’s can affect patient care by encouraging patient families to fill out the survey,” Jan said. “Even one or two comments can make all the difference in improving patient families’ lives.”