I originally published this in 2014.

This topic is still relevant today. In fact, since I wrote this article the response rate has dropped to an absolute shameful 28%. (Reference link below)

Current Table:

When reading the article understand that the waste is much greater now as the response rate has dropped 5% in just three years!

According to my calculations below, US healthcare has wasted approximately 1million dollars in paper on unreturned HCAHPS survey since 2014.

Patients Deserve Better

I can not be the only one who recognizes the waste and the poor results from this silly paper survey game. It is funny… or at least, you have to laugh.

I had a routine visit to my doctor office about a month and a half ago. Today, I receive the waste of time and money that we are all very familiar with, in the form of the snail mailed paper patient satisfaction survey. I thought initially it may be from billing since the envelope was so thick. I open to find 5 pages and a return envelope. One page for instruction and to recognize the appointment date as well as the doctor name, followed by the 4 page 66 question survey tool.

This may come as a surprise to you, but as the founder of HCXP I have never filled out one of these extensive paper surveys and returned to the survey vendor. Having worked the industry for so long I know how completely compromised this data can be from patient pencil and paper, through the vendor QA and their paper scanning/processing procedures. So yes, I am among the 67% of our nation’s patients that will not return the mandated paper survey. Unlike the many patients who will not waste their time to fill these pages of forgotten thoughts in, months later. I make my conscious decision based on knowledge of the industry and the compromised life cycle of those 4 pages.

It does not take long to find groups of physicians and healthcare colleagues who are tired of the antiquated nonsense and ongoing mandated processes placed on the US Healthcare System. A quick Twitter search and I uncovered a group of physicians who have started a campaign on GoFundMe simply named “End Patient Satisfaction Surveys.” I argue that we are dividing and not compromising on effective solutions.

I mentioned waste in the above paragraph. I am going to throw around some numbers, try to keep up.

  • My envelope contained 6 pieces of paper and the envelope it came in (7 pieces of paper)
  • HCAHPS Return Rate Reported at 33% (
  • On average, every day more than 28,000 patients are surveyed about their recent hospital experience (
  • Every day more than 8,400 patients complete the HCAHPS Survey (
  • It is estimated that 60% of all HCAHPS surveys are administered in the paper form (Introduction to HCAHPS Survey Training, slide 14)

Let’s put some of these numbers together now.

  • 28,000 (patients surveyed a day) X 365 (days in the year) = 10,220,000 Surveys administered each year
  • 10,220,000 (surveys per year) / 67 (33% Return Rate) = 6,847,400 Unreturned Surveys
  • 6,847,400 (Unreturned surveys) / 60% (paper surveys) = 4,108,440 Unreturned paper surveys
  • 4,108,440 (Unreturned paper surveys) X 7 (Paper per mailing) = 28,759,080 Pieces of Paper Wasted Each Year!

Care for an even greater perspective?

  • 28,759,080 / 500 = 57,518
  • 57,518 / 365 = 157.6 Reams of Paper Wasted Each Day
  • Ream of paper cost approximately 5$

Imagine the money wasted on this antiquated system of Healthcare Survey Data Collection and Reporting.

I think we can do better than a 33% return and a waste of 300k/year in paper alone.

In no other time during our nation’s history will this type of patient data be more valuable to our consumer driven healthcare marketplace, than in the coming years.

“Patient’s simply deserve a better way to express their voice than on a piece of paper or a phone call weeks or months after care.”

As a patient, I know I deserve better…

My hope is that 2015 will be a year of compromise and teamwork.

#PatientExperience #PatientSatisfaction #ImproveHealthcare #LTACH #HCAHPS #UrgentCare #PX #HC #CMS

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