The goal was to improve communications with patients at Yale New Haven Hospital. The plan was to begin sending post-visit emails to nuclear medicine and CT scan patients in January 2017.
The results exceeded expectations. In February, Dave Facchini, radiology quality and safety manager, and Jay Pahade, MD, vice chair for quality and safety, presented those results at a Radiology Improvement Summit at Stanford University.
The email that was sent thanked patients for using our department's services, provided patients with the names of staff members who had performed their exam, and told them how they could obtain their report. The email also included a link so that the patients could comment or share concerns, and encouraged the patients to complete a Press Ganey survey if they received one.
“The patients were so appreciative to be given the opportunity to provide this feedback that a year later we began sending post-visit emails to all of our radiology outpatients,” said James Sheehan, radiology supervisor at YNHH.
“Through the comments received through our emails and the Press Ganey surveys, we identified the need to improve our pre-visit communications,” Sheehan said.
In July, 2017, the department began sending pre-visit emails. Each email contained the patient’s appointment date and time, information on how they should prepare for their exam, parking directions and even directions for getting from the parking area to the check-in location for their appointment, complete with photographs.
“In 2017-18, our patients sent us over 20,000 responses via e-mail,” Sheehan said. “They were able to communicate both positive and negative experiences in a quick and stress-free manner. Our managers respond to every email they receive.”
Since about 30% of the positive patient replies identify staff members by name, the department is able to recognize staff with patient service awards, Sheehan said.
Starting in May, the department will be starting a pilot, sending pre-appointment information via text messages to MRI patients. A new department notification report that is sent to managers and lead staff contains a list of patients that are scheduled for exams over the next five days that have previously submitted a negative or mixed comment. The goal is to make their upcoming visit as successful as possible, Sheehan said.
Earlier this year, Yale New Haven, Department of Radiology, received Special Recognition for Excellence in Person and Family Engagement by CMS.