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Measuring and Improving Patient Experience in Safety-Net Clinics

The business adage "what gets measured gets managed" applies in health care. Two projects focus on measuring and improving the patient experience in community clinics.

In recent years, significant resources have been invested to evaluate patient experience of care (PEC) in various health care settings. However, most data collection has focused solely on the commercially insured population, and there is very little verified data on PEC among safety-net patients. To gather data on this population, CHCF supported an initiative to measure the use of standardized PEC survey tools in safety-net clinic settings, as well as two quality improvement (QI) collaboratives focusing on PEC within a large urban clinic system. The results of these PEC projects are offered in two reports, plus an executive summary that outlines the results from both projects:

  • Improving Patient Experience: A Hands-On Guide for Safety-Net Clinics presents the results of two collaborative PEC improvement efforts by the San Francisco Health Plan (SFHP) clinic network, one focused on patient access, the other on communication between patients and providers/staff. The SFHP report is a hands-on, step-by-step guide to help clinics and small practices improve PEC. It includes appendices that offer the specific changes that worked for SFHP, as well as references to resources the clinics relied on in making their improvements.
  • Feedback Loop: Testing a Patient Experience Survey in the Safety Net describes the results of testing a standardized Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) PEC survey through different implementation modes. These include a visit-based, in-office survey administered by non-staff, an Internet-based survey, and a mail survey. The report includes the CAHPS visit-based survey itself, as modified for safety-net clinics; the scripts used for approaching patients; and copies of cover materials.

The executive summary, Measuring and Improving Patient Experience in the Safety Net, presents a capsule version of the results of both projects.

All three papers are available as Document Downloads. Also available as Document Downloads are the CAHPS PEC visit-based survey in English and translated into four languages: Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean.

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