Quality Field Notes: How to Build a Sustainable Patient Experience Program

Two young women fill out an enrollment form.

What is the best way for providers to get objective and actionable information on whether they are delivering patient-centered care? Ask the patients.

Patient experience surveys, particularly those that use validated questions such as the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Clinician & Group Surveys (CG-CAHPS®), give providers feedback on patients’ office visits. Practices can then take specific steps to improve the care experience.

This issue brief, and related resources, explore key lessons on how patient experience surveys help providers better understand and deliver patient-centered care and help consumers find the best care for themselves and their families.

What's Working

  • Nine medical groups participated with Minnesota Community Measurement, an RWJF Aligning Forces for Quality (AF4Q) grantee, to report patient experience data. Given disappointing survey scores, one Minnesota clinic improved patient communications with printed patient care instructions that originated from its electronic health records system.

  • Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP), another AF4Q grantee, worked with health plans and the Massachusetts Medical Society to conduct community-wide standardized patient experience surveys.

  • MHQP partnered with Consumer Reports to publish physician ratings based on communication, coordination of care, patient knowledge, and office staff for 329 adult care and 158 pediatric care practices. They produced educational materials on how patient experience data can aid consumer care decisions.

  • One Boston-area pediatric practice used survey feedback to enhance staff communications and customer service capabilities. It posted education videos online and provided written materials in offices about common health conditions. As a result, the number of unnecessary office visits has gone down.

Read quote

We have been able to expand the number of patients we see. It has also enhanced our value and perception by people.

—Lester Hartman, MD, MPH, partner of Westwood-Mansfield Pediatric Associates, a Boston-Area Pediatric Practice