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Fighting Survey Fatigue Versus Collecting the Data You Need

By Bill Prentice

You walk into your local drugstore, get what you came for and check out. When you look at your receipt, it directs you to a website where you can complete a survey about your shopping experience. You return home, pick up your mail and find an oversized envelope asking you to complete a survey about the quality of services your local government provides. Later that day, you take a seat in front of your computer to join an online meeting. When you disconnect, you get a request to supply your star ratings on the call quality. Will these surveys never end?

Unless artificial intelligence (AI) pioneers find a way to read our minds without any of us ever having to express an opinion again, probably not … and maybe not even then.

Unfortunately, even though most of us suffer some level of survey fatigue in our daily lives, ASC leaders need to overcome their desire to never fill in another open circle, check a blank box or choose a numeric rating ever again and participate in a few surveys that can be critically important to the future of their centers.

Clinical and Operational Benchmarking

Let’s start with benchmarking. ASC management experts and accreditation advisers routinely recommend that ASCs participate in benchmarking surveys that allow them to compare clinical and operational performance measures with other ASCs and internally over time. ASCA’s Clinical and Operational Benchmarking Survey gives ASCs an outstanding tool to do exactly that.

This survey collects data on volume, quality, operations, outcomes, complications, staffing and finance. Three optional specialty tracks also allow ASCs to compare data on total joint, complex spine and ophthalmology procedures. Since 2020, the survey has been recognized as meeting AAAHC’s Advanced Orthopaedic Certification requirements as a nationally recognized specialty-specific data repository. Participants complete the survey four times a year and have year-round access to the reports.

Participants use the results to find outliers in their performance measures that indicate areas where improvements are possible. They also track their information year-over-year to ensure an ongoing level of quality and measure growth.

Subscriptions to this year’s survey also include free access to “Benchmarking Basics for ASCs,” a new digital guide developed by ASC management experts at ASCA’s request to help ASCs conduct their benchmarking surveys, analyze their results and apply their findings in meaningful ways that lead to lasting improvements in their centers. ASCA members can purchase the survey at a discount.

Salary and Benefits

Another important survey ASCs should complete is ASCA’s ASC Salary & Benefits Survey. Since the COVID-19 pandemic and national public health emergencies were declared, the challenges associated with hiring and retaining top-notch staff have multiplied. This survey, conducted only every other year, will be live this June. Any ASC can participate for free, and ASCs that complete the survey receive free personalized reports. Users share data on more than 20 positions and can compare their own results against other ASCs nationally, regionally and in their home state. Both salaries and benefits are explored in detail, and all the results are assembled on one digital platform that provides easy access to the data and quick comparisons.

ASCA’s New 60-Second Survey

To collect more data on ASCs that we can use to serve ASCs better and improve our ASC advocacy, ASCA rolled out a series of questions this year in a new tool we are calling our 60-Second Survey. Each short survey in this series will contain fewer than 10 questions that can be answered in 60 seconds or less. All personal data will be kept confidential, but the aggregate data will inform our conversations with members of Congress, Medicare officials and others and help ASCA respond to questions we get from the media.

ASCA will collect all responses online and participation is free. While some of the surveys will collect data from ASCA members only, others will be open to nonmember ASCs as well. If you have questions about this new quick survey tool, please contact ASCA’s Regulatory Policy and Research Manager Alex Taira at ataira@ascassociation.org.

Culture of Safety and Patient Experience of Care Surveys

While it is too late to participate in the Culture of Safety Survey ASCA released this year, please put this one on your calendar for 2022. This tool can lead to improved patient safety in your ASC by helping you identify staff concerns and communications challenges in your center.

Ideally, every employee in your ASC provides responses to this survey, which takes about 10 minutes to complete. Questions are grouped into eight categories that look at topics like teamwork and training, management support for patient safety and communication in the surgery/procedure room. As with all the other survey tools mentioned above, ASCA has tried to make the survey process as quick and simple as possible while collecting the data needed to support improvement.

Many ASCs also elect to learn more about their patients’ experiences in their facility using a Patient Experience Survey available from ASCA Affinity Partner SPH Analytics. The company also offers a streamlined version of that survey and an Outpatient and Ambulatory Surgery Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (OAS CAHPS) survey designed specifically for ASCs and HOPDs. As a reminder, no federal regulations require participation in the OAS CAHPS survey for ASCs at this time.

Choose Wisely, Put Your Results to Work

We all know that surveys can be important. At ASCA, for example, we rely heavily on feedback from the thousands of people who participate in our educational programs each year to develop future opportunities that directly target their needs and meet their expectations. Most ASCs rely heavily on their patient satisfaction surveys when they consider ways to improve their facilities and customer service. Insurance providers sometimes look at online reviews and patient survey results too. And who hasn’t occasionally consulted other customer reviews while shopping online or trying to select a local restaurant?

Ultimately, what matters most when it comes to fighting survey fatigue while making sure your ASC is delivering the best care and customer service possible is choosing wisely, analyzing your results carefully and applying what you learn. Maybe you don’t need to fill out a survey every time you buy a toothbrush or a greeting card, but you do need to collect and analyze critical data about your facility and take action based on your results.

For all the tools mentioned above, ASCA has focused on making each survey simple and quick to complete. We have also worked to make it easy to compare your results to other ASCs and to analyze and apply the data.

For more information about these resources, visit the Education and Surveys section of ASCA’s website at www.ascassociation.org. Please visit the site and make sure your ASC is collecting and reviewing the critical information these surveys address.

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