Text message surveys help improve quality and gain online review data

Urgent care provider PromptMD messages patients as they head out the door to gain fresh perspectives on care – it so far has a 36.8% response rate.
By Bill Siwicki
12:39 PM
Text message surveys help improve quality and gain online review data

The survey and reviews system provides statistics on campaigns and a running summary of results.

PromptMD, a three-location urgent care and family practice medical center in New Jersey, had tried several ways to get patients to provide feedback in real time and do customer reviews for the provider organization.

THE PROBLEM

"We would hand out a PromptMD postcard to the patient after discharge with step-by-step instructions on how to go to our website and click on Google or Yelp to share their experience," said Carole Flynn, director of operations and client services at PromptMD. "Staff also would have to have the same conversation with each and every patient, which was not very efficient because of the operational time associated with telling patients."

Not only did this process not yield many online reviews from patients, but PromptMD also had a difficult time identifying how patients felt when they walked out the door. This uncertainty was hard to overcome.

"Are we really doing a great job or are we merely providing service?" Flynn asked. "And, though we were confident that nearly all patients were leaving satisfied, none of those experiences were translating into positive online reviews and feedback, so there was a lack of reassurance."

PROPOSAL

Vendor Rivews.com offered a text message service that it said would allow PromptMD to collect patient feedback with a response rate that far exceeded current market status quo. A higher response rate for PromptMD meant more patient data, more online reviews and better patient recovery.

The vendor said the technology was efficient and easy to manage for staff, as well as efficient and convenient for patients to express their experience via text message after leaving the facility in real time. That would translate into the highest amount of feedback in the shortest amount of time, the vendor said.

MARKETPLACE

There are a variety of text message survey systems on the market today. Vendors of this technology include Excitem, EZTexting, Poll Everywhere, Qualtrics, SimpleTexting, Trumpia and TXTImpact.

MEETING THE CHALLENGE

Flynn said staff is easily able to navigate the Rivews.com online portal to send patients surveys via text within the hour they are discharged so the experience is fresh in a patient's mind. It takes only 20 seconds to input the data, she said, adding that staff also has the option to send a survey to all patients from the day at one time.

"As soon as the data is pulled from the EHR and sent into the review system by front desk staff, we start seeing the responses come in and populate in our dashboards," she explained. "We're then also able to use this data to assess how each location is performing, we can compare location data and identify bottlenecks in our patient flow."

As the organization accumulates online reviews and collects positive experiences via text message, it also receives real-time alerts when patients have a negative experience so it can improve patient retention rates via immediate service recovery.

Flynn said the technology has allowed PromptMD to holistically manage its reputation by simply understanding how patients feel, knowing that patient experience affects the bottom line. The organization has been able to ensure it is living up to its high quality of care standards, she added.

RESULTS

PromptMD has surveyed 35,887 patients. Of those, 13,619 have responded – a response rate of 36.8 percent. The average rating has been 4.8 out of 5. Total positive reviews hit 13,145. Total online reviews generated surpassed 800. And the total number of unhappy patients identified was 474, 3.5 percent of all patients.

"Regarding the 36.8 percent response rate, collecting this data in real time really allows us to assess the healthiness of our centers, and that allows us to ensure we improve service recovery and patient relationships," Flynn said. "And the 4.8 average star rating, knowing that on average our patients are having a 4.8-star experience on a 1 to 5 scale has really given us the confidence that we're providing top quality of care and experience."

With regard to the 474 complaints, it was the staff's pleasure to contact and learn from unhappy patients so they could retain the patients, prevent them from visiting other organizations, heighten awareness of patient perceptions to the staff, and, most important, by hearing patients out, staff was able to find areas of improvement, she explained.

"Also, unhappy patients felt less likely to post any negative comments publically like on Yelp or Google because they had a chance to be heard and/or felt resolution occurred," she added.

ADVICE FOR OTHERS

"Patient experience is now becoming central for every organization," said Flynn. "E-mail surveys don't provide the response rate we want and paper surveys are just a complete operational mess."

In today's world, reviews are one of the biggest drivers of new business, she added.

"Our patients often present to the facility and verbalize that they are trying us due to our sensational and large number of reviews," said Flynn. "That is music to our ears."

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com