As hospital value analysis team members, we all have opinions on new products, services, and technologies being evaluated by our VA teams. However, those opinions are worthless without the feedback from our customers who actually use the product, service, or technology.
The best way to obtain this feedback from your customers is to survey them with a customized survey instrument. The following are the seven elements of a good survey that can be relied on to be truthful, accurate, and meaningful:
Elements of a Good Hospital Value Analysis Survey
1. Establish a Survey Objective. In other words, what would you like to learn from the survey? For instance, what functions and features are important to your customers and which are not? This exercise will help you to ask the right questions to get the information you are looking for.
2. Determine Sample Size. It wouldn’t be practical to survey every nurse that could possibly use the product, service, or technology under evaluation so you need to determine a sample size that will represent all of your nurses. Generally, a 10 percent sample is statistically reliable! So, if you have 1,500 nurses that could use the product, you need 150 of them to respond to your survey.
3. Survey Approach. The best methodology is a random sample. Meaning, every recipient of the survey has an equal chance of receiving a survey. This can be accomplished by printing a list of all of your nurses and then sending a survey to every tenth name on your list.
4. Creating a Survey. We find the best way to create a survey is with multiple-choice questions because this is the fastest and easiest way to have clear-cut questions and the results can be tallied quickly.
5. Test the Questions. Don’t forget to select a small group of your customers to test your questions.
6. Survey Format. In today’s high-tech world, surveys should be provided to your customers electronically (i.e., Survey Monkey). This will enable you to quickly obtain feedback and then easily tally your results.
7. Presenting Data. The results (data) from the survey should be presented in a coherent way. One of the best ways is a frequency distribution of the responses (in a percentage format) to each question. I’m sure you have seen this technique with your local news station when they are presenting the results of national surveys and polls.
It might seem like an arduous task to create, format, and submit a survey to your customers on every product, service, and technology they might be requesting. However, we have seen millions of dollars wasted because no survey or a very poor survey instrument was used for feedback.
Our advice to avoid a costly mistake is to use a survey on every one of your product, service, or technology evaluations. Though, its construction and comprehensiveness should be more formalized if: (i) the product, service, or technology will touch hundreds of your hospital’s staff or (ii) the dollar amount of the purchase will be in the tens-of-thousands of dollars annually. Anyway you decide to do it, a customer survey should be considered a best practice for your hospital value analysis process. Don’t make a decision without it!