On 29/06/2015 Document Capture (DCC) hosted an hour long patient experience workshop with healthcare professionals who are in charge of managing patient experience, specifically collecting patient experience data.

The workshop covered four key elements:

  • Understanding the terminology “automated data collection” and the potential value it can bring to patient experience projects and programs.
  • Discussing the role technology can play and the impact it can have in collecting patient experience data.
  • Food for thought when trying to maximise engagement and response rates from patient surveys.
  • The options available to an NHS or private sector healthcare organisation in the analysis of patient experience data and how that can empower an organisation to make effective decisions that directly go towards increasing the quality of care delivered to patients.

Understanding automated data collection

It may sound like complex terminology but it is very easy to understand. Most, if not all, are aware that manual data entry, say from patient surveys, is the process of typing out data from paper forms onto Microsoft Excel or a given database. Automated data collection eliminates the manual element by scanning the paper  surveys and extracting the necessary data from it to be sent to Excel or any statistical/analytical software being used.

There are two fundamental benefits of automated data collection:

  1. An increase in data quality. Data will not be riddled with human error present in manual data entry.
  2. Time savings. Once again a simple patient survey might take 15 minutes to manually type out, but only 6 minutes to process using an automated system.

This begs the question, how does automated data collection help me as a nurse/someone involved in patient experience on a daily and practical basis?

Simply put, in utilising automated data collection, a PALS unit or patient experience team are spending less time in the laborious processes of collecting and trying to access the data in a timely manner. This time is alternatively spent monitoring and analysing data in near real time and thus actioning the data i.e. making relevant decisions in the interest of patient care. You are now able to understand what limits a patients’ experience whilst they are still in care and thus you can correct it immediately instead of finding out weeks after their discharge.

The role of technology in patient experience

Technology has a whole wealth of benefits if used appropriately. From our experience, we can recall one trust buying 10 iPads to collect patient experience data from. However, later they realised these were unsecure and thus had to abandon them. This delayed their plans to collect the data and resulted in cost implications. iPads aren’t cheap!

In light of that, here are a few things to consider when choosing a device to collect patient data:

  • Target patience: Can your patients/nurse use the device?
  • Internet connection: Do you have a stable connection? If not can the device capture data offline and then sync to a database/spreadsheet when a connection is available?
  • Security: Both physical security of tablet and software security. Another trust we worked with initially wanted to use small devices that nurses could easily hold. Later, they realised the tablets were prone to being lost and stolen and were difficult to read from owing to the small screen, thus chose a bigger and sturdier device with a strap for nurses to hold the device securely with.

Maximise response rate from patient surveys

You have consider your patients as ‘target audience’ an almost profile them as how a retail company does when selling a product, because essentially you want them to engage with your survey. Once you know the type of patients you are collecting data from, you are able to customise the following aspects of the survey design to maximise engagement:

  • Font size
  • Language
  • Colour
  • Question types
  • Response methods
  • Instruction sheets
  • Multi-mode completion – giving them the flexibility of a paper and device option.

Let’s take paediatrics as a scenario, how would you alter the above design tenets to ensure children are responsive to the survey? For example, your colour scheme may reflect that of a superhero movie or cartoon character, the language will be slightly more colloquial and you may use response methods that are fun and interactive i.e. use of smiley face or superhero poses to depict an emotion when asking questions like “how was your stay?”

Going to the other end of the scale, geriatrics, the font size may be large to increase legibility, the use of a plain rather than extravagant colour scheme which is easy on the eye and so forth.

Once again if collecting data from a specific type of patients such as those recovering from stroke, you will have to adjust the patient survey to reflect their limitations.

Patient Experience data analytic

Many will be aware of Excel spreadsheets and statistical tools such as SPSS. DCC presented two alternative solutions, namely performance dashboard and text analytics. We stand by the notion ‘seeing is believing’, therefore instead of describing them, we prefer to show them to you! Please click here for example screenshots of a dashboard used for Therapy Outcome Measures, which also contains a short explanation. However, we believe the real value of the dashboard can only be seen with a live example. If this is of interest, contact us and we will set you up with a free login where you are able to use a would-be dashboard.

Overall, performance dashboards, allow an organisation work with the data interactively and in real time, using controls to drill down the data as necessary and exporting relevant data for departmental or management reporting. In the context of patient experience, this may be looking at the data by a specific gender, age group, ethnicity, ward and so forth. Furthermore, the dashboard can incorporate external data, that from social media and other areas in a hospital to formulate an entire 360 view of patient experience.


Overall, those in attendance found the workshop interesting and of value. We are looking to re-run the workshop with a slightly different emphasis, having patients in attendance to give their perspective. If you are interested in the second workshop, would like a free dashboard login, have any other questions or would like us to expand on any element discussed in the present workshop, please get into contact.