- Traditional Surveys: Strengths and Weaknesses
- Online Surveys: Strengths and Weaknesses
- Mystery Shopping for Data Collection: Strengths and Weaknesses
- Patient Interviews: Strengths and Weaknesses
- Research Gaps and Patient Experience Factors
- The Proposed Framework and Its Novelty
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Improving patient satisfaction remains one of the pivotal goals of healthcare providers since it presents a significant determinant of service quality. It is impossible to achieve this goal without using patient experience data, and there are many approaches to collecting it. The given paper reviews the ways of collecting patient experience information, identifies their weak points, and proposes a more modern approach to data collection in healthcare.
Traditional Surveys: Strengths and Weaknesses
Nowadays, the significance of patient experience data for healthcare improvement cannot be overstated, and various approaches to its collection usually involve different types of surveys. The use of traditional surveys that are paper-based remains one of the most popular approaches to data collection, and it is associated with numerous advantages for patient outcomes and data analysis. The popularity of traditional surveys is highlighted in many sources, including the study by Barry, Campbell, Asprey, and Richards (2015). The most commonly used data collection method, the study states, involves conducting patient surveys on a regular basis to keep track of changes related to the provision of healthcare services.
The use of paper-based surveys has numerous advantages since they are believed to protect anonymity and provide numerical data that is easy to analyze (Price et al., 2014). Even though such surveys are easy to use and apply scientifically sound measures, there is a number of weaknesses that decrease the usefulness of collected data for healthcare systems. In their study devoted to methods of data collection in healthcare, Mukasa, Mushi, Maire, Ross, and de Savigny (2017) prove that paper surveys produce data of medium quality that lacks accuracy.
Moreover, when speaking about the disadvantages of the method, the researchers mention that the use of paper surveys is more costly and time-consuming than other approaches to data collection. Mukasa et al. (2017) persist in saying that paper-based surveys are more applicable to small-scale studies. Taking that into account, there are significant limitations related to the ability to use paper-based surveys in studying patient experience.
Online Surveys: Strengths and Weaknesses
The use of inline surveys presents another important way of patient experience data collection used in different countries. Unlike traditional surveys that are paper-based, this tool involves the use of electronic devices and often requires having a stable Internet connection. In their study, Brook, Siewert, Weinstein, Ahmed, and Kruskal (2017) mention that online surveys can play a great role in measuring patient satisfaction with medical imaging services.
According to Brook et al. (2017), the character of patient experience is heavily impacted by factors that cannot be controlled by radiologists and other healthcare professionals. Among them are the presence of specific physical symptoms, a low pain threshold, or negative expectations (Brook et al., 2017). From this follows a significant advantage of online and electronic surveys: collecting precise quantitative data, they reduce the impact of emotional aspect and provide more objective results (Brook et al., 2017).
The practical usefulness of online surveys is also supported by Mukasa et al. (2017) who prove that conducting them is 28% less expensive than the use of traditional data collection tools. Apart from economic advantages, data collected via online questionnaires is easily summarized, which allows working with large groups of patients.
From the statements made by the above-mentioned researchers, it is clear that the weaknesses of online surveys in data collection stem from their advantages. Brook et al. (2017) acknowledge that the average rate of return of online surveys is quite low because of privacy concerns. Also, online surveys are not usually conducted right after healthcare events that need evaluation, and it increases the risks of memory biases (Brook et al., 2017). Other issues indicated by modern researchers include technical problems and the inability to analyze the emotional side of patient experience (Brook et al., 2017; Mukasa et al., 2017).
Mystery Shopping for Data Collection: Strengths and Weaknesses
Mystery shopper initiatives in collecting patient experience information are quite different from surveys and deserve the attention of modern researchers in the field. The use of the approach to data collection under analysis involves hiring trained specialists who know a lot about particular healthcare services and, therefore, can evaluate the quality of service using only objective measures (Brook et al., 2017).
Despite their advantages, the methods of data collection that involve mystery shopping are not extremely popular among healthcare providers (Barry et al., 2015). The strong points of such initiatives are presented by objectivity, the ability of mystery shoppers to focus on the specific aspects of healthcare services, and accuracy.
The weaknesses of the method refer to the inappropriateness of circumventing healthcare specialists from the moral point of view. Thus, according to Bilkhu, Wolffsohn, Tang, and Naroo (2014), the use of mystery shopping is impossible without deceptive methods. As for other disadvantages, mystery shopping does not present the best way of data collection because it fails to produce a large quantity of data (Bauermeister et al., 2015). Coupled with the need for special training and related expenses, the mentioned weaknesses reduce the viability of the method.
Patient Interviews: Strengths and Weaknesses
Patient interviews are widely used in healthcare in order to understand factors impacting patient experience in relation to particular healthcare services. The key difference between this way of collecting data and the previously mentioned methods is the focus on qualitative data. As distinguished from commonly used surveys, interviewing allows taking the emotional component of patient experience into account, and it presents one of the key advantages of the approach to data collection (Davis, Mulligan, Moszkowicz, & Resnik, 2015). This positive side of interviewing in healthcare points at the necessity to use the method when studying patient experience related to services that involve strong emotional reactions.
Interviewing clients to gather patient experience data is inextricably connected with disadvantages. Using interviews involves a lot of work related to preparing questions, recording responses, preparing transcripts, coding, and other activities (Kaipio et al., 2018). It makes the discussed approach to data collection both time-consuming and costly.
Research Gaps and Patient Experience Factors
As it is clear from the existing literature devoted to collecting patient experience information, the ways to overcome the disadvantages of popular methods remain unknown. The most obvious research gaps are related to the lack of mixed-method approaches that would help to collect both qualitative and quantitative patient experience data. In addition, it can be concluded that almost all methods discussed in the reviewed studies involve anonymity or accuracy concerns, and this justifies the need for a new framework that would allow collecting data in a timely manner without the threat of personal information leakage.
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The degree to which patient experience data is helpful and precise is related to specific factors such as anonymity and the lack of memory biases. Given that both objective and subjective factors are important in collecting patient experience data, standardized questions and questions that require respondents to describe their experience emotionally should be included in the new tool.
The Proposed Framework and Its Novelty
The gaps that have been identified point at the necessity for the new framework for data collection that would be constructed with regard to such factors as emotional experience, timeliness, complete anonymity, and the use of modern technology. The proposed framework for data collection involves the creation of special rooms in healthcare facilities similar to voting stations. In order to make use of modern technology and reduce time needed to collect data, they are to be equipped with computer kiosks.
Those using healthcare services would be encouraged to give feedback to help measure patient satisfaction. Respondents would need to use kiosks to choose the type of service to be evaluated, answer a few yes/no questions related to their experience, evaluate the quality of services numerically, and answer multiple-choice questions to propose the areas of improvement. Importantly, they would have an opportunity to write a short post or leave a voice message to present the emotional component of their experience.
The proposed concept possesses novelty if compared to the previous ways of data collection. In particular, it attempts at concatenating the positive aspects of different approaches such as thoroughness, the opportunities for generalization, up-to-dateness, and the use of both quantitative and qualitative data. Despite financial expenses needed for the implementation of the concept, its novelty is expected to produce positive results and make healthcare more patient-oriented.
In the end, improving the quality of healthcare services is impossible without collecting patient experience data. All popular methods of data collection possess significant disadvantages, and the creation of well-equipped “polling places” in healthcare facilities is expected to reduce problems related to anonymity and timeliness. Presenting a modification of electronic surveys, the framework would help to strike the right balance between qualitative and quantitative data.
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