"The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through." -- Sydney J. Harris

Measuring the Experience of Patients Like You

MNCM_10thAnnivLogo_RibbonOnly_FNLPatients have the best health outcomes when health care providers partner with them, their family members and caregivers.

Research shows patients who have the knowledge, skills and confidence to advocate for their health care also have the best patient experiences. Additionally, patients who have positive relationships and good experiences are more likely to return for follow up tests, take medications they’re prescribed and stay healthy.

MN Community Measurement began measuring and moving toward public reporting of patient experience of care in 2007. Patient experience of care is a broad term that refers to everything that happens to patients from the moment they walk into the provider’s office until the end of the appointment. It also includes all phone calls and/or other contact a patient has with the provider’s office before or after appointments.

The measurement of patient experience differs from many other clinical measures in one critical way: data is collected directly from patients regarding their clinic experience.

From Voluntary Participation to State Mandate

In both 2008 and 2010, more than 100 clinics voluntarily participated in Minnesota’s first Clinician and Group Surveys – Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) patient experience survey, which was spearheaded by MNCM. These confined surveys tested the implementation of a standardized patient experience of care survey. During these two tests, surveys were sent to 500,000 Minnesotans.

Beginning in 2012, clinics that met size and specialty criteria were mandated to conduct and report patient experience under the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)’s Statewide Quality Reporting and Measurement System. As part of MDH’s contract with MNCM, we collected and aggregated responses to the CG-CAHPS survey from patients who had appointments in late 2012.

The First Year Results

In 2013, the results of that surveying were announced. MNCM released the results of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive patient experience of care survey. More than 230,000 Minnesotans returned surveys and results were reported on more than 650 medical clinics throughout Minnesota. The results were made available on, and in combination with the clinical quality results, gave patients and providers a clearer idea of how care is being delivered.

Based on these patient surveys, clinics were ranked in each of the four patient experience categories:

  • Access to care – availability of appointments, care and information when needed
  • Provider communication – how well providers listen and explain care instructions in a way that patients understand
  • Office staff – how polite and helpful office staff had been
  • How patients rate their providers – how a patient would rate the provider on a 0 to 10 point scale with zero being the work possible provider and ten being the best possible provider

The 2013 survey results indicated:

  • 78 percent of patients were happy with their provider
  • 91 percent of patients felt clinic staff were helpful and courteous
  • 90 percent of patients were pleased with provider communication
  • But only 60 percent were satisfied with access to care

“The results of the patient experience of care survey are an important tool for clinics because you can’t improve what you don’t measure,” said Jim Chase, MNCM President. “Clinics that participated in the survey were able to compare their results to those of their peers and use that information to implement improvement strategies, getting ever closer to achieving the Triple Aim.”

Just Released: Second Year Results

Buoyed by the success of the first year’s results, MDH and MNCM have worked over the past two years to report a second round of results.

The results of the 2015 Patient Experience of Care Survey were released in August 2015 by MDH and MNCM. Once again, Minnesota has the nation’s largest statewide patient experience survey, which included responses from more than 200,500 patients and reported results on 765 clinics in Minnesota and neighboring communities. That is a 19 percent increase in the number of clinics reported two years ago.

This year’s survey suggests patient opinion hasn’t changed much in the past two years, but patients are still dissatisfied with their access to care. And although patients overall are pleased with their experiences, the survey found significant differences between individual clinics.

The 2015 survey results indicated:

“Sharing this information helps patients understand what they should expect when they go to the doctor’s office, and helps physicians understand the elements to providing an outstanding experience for their patients,” Chase said.

Looking Ahead

MNCM expects to continue reporting patient experience results on, and also hopes to evaluate trends regionally and by demographic categories in the future. This information will further support clinics and medical groups in their efforts to provide every patient with an outstanding experience.