Collecting survey data online has benefits

September 6, 2007

I received an email request online%20health%20survey.jpg last week from my health insurer to complete an online survey. Providers and insurers are required to collect and report “quality” information. The process can be costly (in person hours and/or $$) if sound survey principles are employed. Insurers have deeper pockets than provider groups so outcomes for insurers often have more defensible arguments where reliability and validity are concerned. I wrote an article for a professional magazine in 2000 describing cost effective and reasonable shortcuts for providers.
The best choice today for insurers and providers is to conduct the survey online. If information is required the applications are almost without limit.
The practice of surveying healthcare organizations to determine what everyone is paying for a certain medical service (e.g., hospitalist, interventional cardiologist) is a very good idea whose value and utility is often overlooked. This is a Fair Market Value survey. Organizational diligence in surveying the market, in many cases, supports compliance with regulations governing the purchase of services from third-parties, many of whom are also potential referral sources for patients. In order to encourage survey participation certain tactics can be employed.

Respondent identity is confidential or even anonymous, known only to the survey consultant. Quid pro quo works, i.e., complete the survey and I will share the blinded report with you. Challenges remain including (1) finding the person with the information; (2) persuading that individual to respond to the questions; and (3) deciphering unanticipated information. I am distributing my current Fair Market Value survey online.
It is not unusual to learn that a hospital employs questionable policies and practices in order to stay competitive in the marketplace. This is why confidentiality is so important. When I conduct the survey over the phone I have all the identifying information of the respondent. When I do it online the respondent’s ID is anonymous. The online approach protects the respondent and the surveyor.
A Fair Market Value survey can help the individual hospital determine if they are paying what is fair. It also can provide important unanticipated information that could help the hospital take corrective action before its next audit either internal or by external government agency.

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