Minnesota: Partnering for a Better Patient Experience

04 Nov 2013

“Patients are going to get better experience and service because of this survey. A lot of doctors resist the notion this is a service industry, but it is. It actually does matter what my patients feel,” said David Satin, MD, who sits on the measurement and reporting committee of MN Community Measurement, leader of the Aligning Forces for Quality initiative in the state.

Results from the more than 230,000 patient-completed surveys on patient experience of care—known as the Clinician and Group Surveys–Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS)—from 651 clinics are now available for consumers to use along with other information on the cost and quality of health care providers in Minnesota. Survey data were collected in line with a 2008 state law mandating that clinics report their performance. Patient experience is one of the measures Minnesota providers report.

The Minnesota Department of Health partnered with Minnesota Community Measurement to put together a comprehensive look at patient experience. The survey, sent via mail after a visit to a provider, focused on four areas of patient experience: whether patients are getting care when they need it, the helpfulness of office staff, how well clinicians communicate, and how well patients rate their clinicians.

The CG-CAHPS survey is the national standard for objective reporting of patient experience, allowing people to make apples-to-apples comparisons across clinics. Although there is room for improvement and results revealed a range of experiences, overall, Minnesotans report being happy with their care. Ninety percent of respondents described communication from their providers as top level. Sixty percent of all survey respondents said they experienced the top level of access to care at their clinics. The vast majority of respondents gave clinics top marks for being respectful and helpful.

As a leader in health care transformation, MN Community Measurement was chosen by the Minnesota Department of Health to administer the survey and maintain the cache of survey results online.

“Now that we’ve shown that we can have a statewide process and can get the information used, we expect this survey will be done every year or two,” said Jim Chase, president of MN Community Measurement. “Everyone benefits from this kind of data, and it’s sustainable because it will become a way things are done in our state. Our focus for the future will be how to make the survey process more timely and efficient and explore new ways to get the information used to improve care.”

Research shows that good patient experience has a positive relationship to other aspects of health care quality, including patients’ adherence to providers’ instructions and outcomes. Although a patient’s choice of physician is deeply personal, this survey information can play a role in decision-making. Said Dr. Satin, “The way forward is a quantitative approach to quality improvement. That includes the transparency of public reporting. It’s the main work of our generation of doctors.”