Sur­veys have aided care, says Sault Area Hos­pi­tal

Num­ber of de­part­ments in­cluded in manda­tory pro­gram

The Sault Star - - FRONT PAGE - JEFFREY OUGLER jougler@post­media.com On Twit­ter: @Jef­freyOu­gler

And the sur­vey says …

Ar­eas of Sault Area Hos­pi­tal ser­vice — in­clud­ing that of­fered at the fa­cil­ity’s emer­gency depart­ment — are of­ten gauged via sur­veys, which, the hos­pi­tal says, have ul­ti­mately helped bol­ster care.

Depart­ment man­agers and lead­ers get sur­vey re­sults, as well as “ver­ba­tim com­ments,” which are then “turned into an ac­tion plan” to guide im­prove­ments, says Liz Fer­gu­son, Sault Area Hos­pi­tal’s vice-pres­i­dent of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions and chief nurs­ing of­fi­cer.

Fer­gu­son cited one in­pa­tient area in which feed­back in­di­cated call bells were not be­ing an­swered in what the pa­tient con­sid­ered a “timely fash­ion.”

“So, they were able to take that in­for­ma­tion, cre­ate an ac­tion plan and im­prove the re­spon­sive­ness of pa­tients us­ing the call bell,” she said in an in­ter­view with The Sault Star. “So, that’s just a small ex­am­ple of some of the many im­prove­ments that we’ve made us­ing the sur­veys.”

The Ex­cel­lent Care for All Act of 2010 man­dated On­tario hos­pi­tals ad­min­is­ter pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence sur­veys be­cause there is a “strong cor­re­la­tion” be­tween qual­ity, qual­ity of care and pa­tient out­come “if their ex­pe­ri­ence is pos­i­tive,” Fer­gu­son said.

In ad­di­tion, ev­ery hos­pi­tal is re­quired to have a qual­ity im­prove­ment plan, and Heath Qual­ity On­tario has rec­om­mended pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence as a “top in­di­ca­tor.” “So,

“We usu­ally ask ques­tions to get feed­back on things like im­prove­ments that we’ve made or to check some of the things that we, as an or­ga­ni­za­tion, have put in place to im­prove the pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence.”

- Liz Fer­gu­son, Sault Area Hos­pi­tal’s vice-pres­i­dent of clin­i­cal op­er­a­tions and chief nurs­ing of­fi­cer

we have it as one of our top in­di­ca­tors,” Fer­gu­son said.

Also, On­tario’s Pa­tients First Act, which be­came law in De­cem­ber 2016 and, the prov­ince says, in­cludes struc­tural changes to health-care that help pa­tients and their fam­i­lies ac­cess care more quickly and closer to home, has pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence as its “cen­tre point” for which the Pa­tient’s First Ac­tion Plan is built around, SAH says.

“There’s lots of con­tex­tual align­ment there,” Fer­gu­son said.

Sault Area Hos­pi­tal uses Na­tional Re­source Corp. (NRC), pegged by the On­tario Hos­pi­tal As­so­ci­a­tion as one of the “key ven­dors” for dis­tribut­ing SAH’s seven pa­tient sat­is­fac­tion or pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence sur­veys.

“We are not re­quired to use (NRC), but a lot of hos­pi­tals do,” Fer­gu­son said.

NRC ran­domly se­lects peo­ple who visit SAH and sends out a sam­pling of sur­veys.

“So not ev­ery­body gets one,” Fer­gu­son said. “It’s ran­domly se­lected, and that’s part of the method­ol­ogy from the NRC.”

For ex­am­ple, there are two sur­veys for the emer­gency depart­ment, one for the core and an­other for the fast track. There is also one for am­bu­la­tory care and ma­ter­nity.

“Dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the hos­pi­tal, if you are a pa­tient there, will get a dif­fer­ent sur­vey,” Fer­gu­son said.

SAH has a 40 per cent sur­vey re­turn, which, ac­cord­ing to NRC, is “sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant.”

“We meet the bar for get­ting those re­sults,” said Fer­gu­son, adding re­sponse rates vary de­pend­ing on pro­grams.

Ques­tion­naires can be “quite lengthy,” with some in­clud­ing up to 80 ques­tions.

“For what­ever rea­son, maybe be­cause they have a new baby, we tend to have low re­sponse rates in ma­ter­nity,” Fer­gu­son said.

NRC se­lects ques­tions con­sid­er­ing “all as­pects of the ex­pe­ri­ence,” such as com­mu­ni­ca­tion, care co­or­di­na­tion, ac­cess to ser­vice, fa­cil­ity clean­li­ness and food qual­ity.

Five “cus­tom” queries are posed by SAH.

“Ev­ery year we re­view those cus­tom ques­tions,” Fer­gu­son said. “And we usu­ally ask ques­tions to get feed­back on things like im­prove­ments that we’ve made or to check some of the things that we, as an or­ga­ni­za­tion, have put in place to im­prove the pa­tient ex­pe­ri­ence.”

JEFFREY OUGLER/SAULT STAR

Sault Area Hos­pi­tal's emer­gency depart­ment is one area of ser­vice for which sur­veys help gauge per­for­mance.

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