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Five secrets to a successful Survey on Patient Safety Culture™

Patient safety graphic with doctor in background

Doing something the way you’ve always done it gets you the results you’ve always gotten. When it comes to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Survey on Patient Safety Culture™ (SOPS®), is that enough?

Not in today’s competitive, post-COVID-19 market.

Your SOPS® scores matter far beyond basic compliance with The Joint Commission and other accrediting organizations. With the public’s growing awareness of patient safety issues, an unfavorable reputational impact can quickly spread across the patient and provider community.

Here are five secrets designed to help you get better SOPS® insights, improve your scores and transform your organization.

  1. Start by asking yourself a few simple, direct questions:

  • What is your current SOPS® response rate?
  • Is it near the minimum required response of 60%?
  • Has your hospital’s rate stayed in the same stubborn response range for multiple survey cycles?

  1. “One and done” will get you nowhere.

Results are only worthwhile if your staff can easily submit feedback. Survey with ease by offering them a SOPS® that is easy to complete and works on mobile or desktop platforms.

Using multiple communication channels to promote the survey can also help: email, text messages, posters and team meeting announcements. It’s helpful to send follow-up reminder emails to encourage participation from those who haven't responded.

  1. Know where you stand and be prepared to show leadership.

The only survey strategy worse than “one and done” is “wait and see.” Waiting until the end of your survey to determine the response rate leads to avoidable survey-rate surprises. It’s best to calculate response rates weekly at a minimum so there’s time to re-promote the survey if needed. Also consider a visualization tool that transforms endless Excel rows into powerful graphics — the kind you can bring into a leadership survey status meeting.

  1. Get results that get results.

SOPS® responses don’t equate to good data, just as good data doesn’t equate to insights. Ensure your survey start connects to actionable endpoints by doing the following:

  • Exclude the three types of survey answers that undermine response rates and data: Surveys that include no actual responses, demographic data only or the same answer for all questions.
  • Oversample to compensate for surveys you must exclude.
  • Preserve the value of partially completed surveys by calculating a percentage for each type of question response — from strongly agree to strongly disagree — to determine whether the overall response was positive, negative or neutral.

  1. See how your hospital measures up.

Reputation begins at home. A strong SOPS® process can reveal the hospital staff’s safety, patient outcome and confidence concerns that affect recruitment and retention. While you’re looking inside, be sure to look out, too. A SOPS® dashboard can show you exactly how your organization measures up against national averages.

When it comes to a culture of patient safety, the survey is just the start. Need a strong survey partner? Contact DataGen today for the SOPS® tools, results and insights that put 60% response rates in your rearview mirror.


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