Radiation Therapist Supervisor Bryan Stump used to wait months before he learned how his patients felt about their experience with his department, and by that time, the patients’ weekly visits to UCHealth’s Radiation Oncology in Fort Collins had long since passed.
“Before, patients would get a paper survey either at the start or the end of their treatment, and then it would take months to get the results — none of which is ideal,” Stump said as he held an iPad in his hand. “This allows us to control when a patient gets the survey and provides feedback so that if we need to make improvements, we can make them immediately and the patient will see that during their time with us.”
The iPad is part of UCHealth Northern Colorado’s pilot of the cloud-based product Marbella.
Marbella allows clinicians to securely record and track data, such as patient surveys and staff rounding, by using an iPad or other mobile device. It can integrate with other technologies, such as UCHealth’s Epic electronic health record, and reports out on the data it gets.
UCHealth is piloting the product in several inpatient and outpatient units at Poudre Valley Hospital and Medical Center of the Rockies, as well as in its research department. In addition to collecting patient experience feedback, the iPads will be used by leaders for patient and staff rounding.
“Our goal is to have real-time responses from the visits and treatments,” Stump said. “We want to identify trends more quickly.”
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requires hospitals to report patient experience scores through one of its approved methods in order to be reimbursed. These surveys won’t be replaced by Marbella, but the new product should help in the efforts to improve CMS survey scores. All units — those required to have CMS surveys as well as those that are not — can use Marbella to capture that patient experience and make more meaningful and immediate improvements, said Cassandra Crowe, senior director of Patient Experience in UCHealth’s northern region.
Marbella allows the piloting units to design their own questions, and leaders can get email notifications when a patient is dissatisfied as well as immediate reporting on patient survey responses.
“The other great thing is once we identify concerns, we can address them, and once we find a solution and it’s no longer an issue, we can modify the survey or manipulate it so we can identify other areas for improvement,” Stump said.
MCR’s imaging department had already been asking patients to fill out a several-question survey before leaving the office. But because it was a paper survey, answers had to be manually entered and the results compiled each week by a staff member. The department has transferred its paper survey to Marbella, and patients can use the iPad kiosk before leaving. Marbella also enables units to provide patients with a secure web address so they can complete the survey via their smart phones, making it more accessible and convenient for them than waiting for the office’s one kiosk.
“This allows us to get those honest and precise answers about their experience right after their visit and save us reporting time,” said Levi Burkhart, business manager for MCR Radiology.
In the first day of the pilot program, the unit had more than 30 completed surveys.
Burkhart said the product is very user-friendly and reports are easy to understand.
Marbella can also be used in different ways, Crowe said.
MCR Chief Nursing Officer Ryan Rohman is piloting the product for patient and staff rounding, which has made his role more efficient, he said.
Rounding is a tool that leaders use to gauge the satisfaction of both patients and staff. He visits with patients, asking questions about services and touching on topics such as communication and responsiveness. When rounding on staff, he’ll see if necessary resources are made available or if certain communications are being passed down.
“Rounding allows me to gather real-time feedback and establish relationships with our staff and our patients,” Rohman said.
Rounding also provides a more personal experience than a survey, he said. However, to be effective, his responses need to be documented and tracked for trends, a time-consuming and difficult goal.
Marbella could change that, Rohman said. It allows him to put in his results immediately after leaving the patient room, and then all the results from his rounding are easily compiled, allowing him to recognize trends in communication and service opportunities, as well as recognize staff and their best practices.
Crowe said that her goal was to get a cross section of UCHealth’s services to trial the product, as well as involve units that were using other methods to capture the patient experience but may benefit from the ease of Marbella. She’ll be meeting with those units later this month to evaluate the usefulness of the product as well as explore other ways it could be used.
Various hospital units are currently capturing the voice of the patient by using different tools. If units use the same platform, such as Marbella if it proves to be the right fit, then surveys can be linked and provide the “bigger picture” of the patient experience.
“It’s hard to hold people accountable for that patient experience when the information lives in so many places,” she said. “If we can get Marbella to capture that, we can be looking at it as a whole instead of parts and pieces.”