Observation Deck

The Importance of Collecting Patient Satisfaction Surveys

If patient relationships truly are at the heart of what HME providers do, then tracking client satisfaction is critical.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” — Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.

That quote really does capture what we all have experienced in dealing with COVID over the last 18-plus months. As you reflect, a couple of questions should come to mind: What have your patients experienced with your organization during this time? How has your business model changed to meet your customer needs?

As we move forward, with the worst hopefully behind us and a New Year ahead of us, now is the perfect time to take the pulse of your operation, and there is no better source of information than your customers.

DMEPOS providers that bill Medicare are required to collect patient satisfaction data as well as dissatisfaction from the beneficiaries they serve. Most providers collect satisfaction on all payer types. As an accreditation organization, we are charged with the responsibility of verification and validation of those surveys as a standard for compliance.

The Reasons for Surveying

During a recent webinar given by The Compliance Team, the following questions and answers were addressed based on conducting surveys:

1. “Why do the survey? It is non-value-added busy work.” As a business owner, can you really afford not to know what your customers think about your products and services? Negative experience travels fast online — you can check Google Reviews to validate that. Here are five reasons why you should be seeking customer satisfaction:

  • Reduce customer churn (retention). Address the problem now to earn repeat business.
  • Reduce negative word of mouth. Bad news travels fast, so address challenges right away.
  • Build your reputation. Turn good experiences into five-star reviews.
  • Focus on areas of improvement. Immediately focus on gaps in your service quality.
  • Beat your competitors. Use positive feedback to differentiate your business or practice.

2. “Our customers like us now, so why ask if they are satisfied?” Many business owners fall into the trap of thinking everything is operating at a high level and that customers are satisfied with their services. Your customers are the pulse of your business, and unless you ask them, you will never know their level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

Quality Improvement Benefits

Providers must track, monitor and measure results each quarter to ensure their businesses are improving in all areas:

Track and manage your Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) Process. Top performers know the importance of using CQI in everyday business. Employees must be trained and use CQI as part of their job performance.

ID and develop goals for the annual Quality Improvement Plan. Reports will help in identifying and developing critical goals for your annual Quality Improvement Plan. Customers help drive your success.

Meet the requirement to review the Outcomes Measurement Report. Ensure the reports are reviewed on a quarterly basis in the Quality Improvement Team meeting. Of course, survey data can be reviewed at any time – survey, review, and react.

Benchmark your business against the competition. This helps you see not only your own internal performance results but measure them against a national database of similar competitors. Also, share your results with payers, patients, and employees.

The Importance to Payers for Contracting

In a recent meeting with a payer, they talked about how important satisfaction results can be in choosing which providers are “network worthy.” Utilizing the satisfaction survey results provides you with qualified and validated information to show payers that you are delivering high-level customer satisfaction.

In choosing a satisfaction database system, your organization should have the capability of tracking your trends in the following:

  • Areas in need of improvement
  • Training opportunities for staff
  • Provider type and equipment/service provided

For example, this is really helpful in determining what instruction was given to a patient with a concentrator versus a power wheelchair.

The most valuable asset, however, is a benchmarking feature for the business owner to see how the company compares to other providers in the database. This gives the owner the ability to know and use their standing among their peers as a competitive advantage.

As you move into the new year, committing to collect, aggregate and benchmark your data will provide you countless benefits and truly help to improve your overall performance.

At the end of the day, the customer-provider relationship is at the heart of everything we do at The Compliance Team; please refer to Mahatma Gandhi’s wisdom to keep focused on what matters most: “A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption of our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider to our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so.”

This article originally appeared in the Nov/Dec 2021 issue of HME Business.

About the Author

Sandra C. Canally, RN is the founder and CEO of accrediting organization The Compliance Team Inc., which was approved by CMS in 2006 to accredit all types of DMEPOS businesses. For more information, email scanally@TheComplianceTeam.org, or visit TheComplianceTeam.org.

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