07 March 2023

Image of Tim Chestney, Patient Experience Officer at Alfred Health

More than 10,000 extra Victorians have had the chance to share their healthcare experiences, following a shift to electronic-only data collection for the Victorian Healthcare Experience Survey (VHES) program.

3,930 people participated in the Adult Inpatient VHES survey in the three months before electronic only data collection was introduced. Between October and December 2022, this jumped to over 18,000 participants, with a response rate of 20% - a nearly five-fold increase in total participation.

The jump in participation was driven by a much-increased sample size, made possible by phasing out collection and processing of paper surveys.

The increase in responses means health services will be able to access much more detailed data to support quality improvement initiatives. It will also enable VAHI to report the results up to a month earlier.

Verity Speed, Manager of Patient Experience at Eastern Health, said having data down to the ward level opened up many opportunities for quality improvement.

“I'm excited to be able to access that ward level data and really use it to drill down and identify areas where we are performing well, and opportunities for improvement,” Ms Speed said.

“Are there certain areas where we can target some improvement work? Or similarly, are there areas that are performing really well, that we can find out what they're doing to help areas that maybe aren't performing as well?”

The increase in participation at Eastern Health has been even higher than the state average, at close to 700% for the adult inpatient category. Ms Speed said this had been achieved despite initial doubts about some patient groups potentially being disadvantaged.

“I know there was a lot of doubt over swapping into the electronic modes, but it's been really good to see that VAHI’s data indicates this hasn’t left behind certain populations such as older adults.

“There’s work underway to ensure culturally diverse populations are completing the survey and it has been great to be involved in some of that consultation.”

Tim Chestney, Patient Experience Officer at Alfred Health (pictured above), said having higher overall VHES participation rates could help highlight different experiences of care among diverse groups.

“By integrating VHES data with our internal Alfred Health Patient Experience Survey and ‘Compliments and Complaints’, our wards can build up a clearer picture of the experience of people using services,” Mr Chestney said.

“The increased sample size also means we are more easily able to compare experiences between difference demographic groups. This helps us find out whether the care offered is the same regardless of a person's background or circumstances.”

Alfred and Eastern Health are both already using VHES data to support improvement activities. This includes improving signage and piloting a new concierge role at the Eastern Health Emergency Department, after wayfinding was highlighted as an issue at the hospital in VHES results.

At Alfred Health, VHES data has revealed that less than half of patients are informed about the different ways they can give feedback, inspiring a review into the way that patients receive essential information about their stay in hospital.

Ms Speed said the new level of data available would support both further initiatives and allow for the impact of existing activities to be better evaluated.

“There's a lot of improvement work the wards are implementing and having the VHES to see if the improvement works are impacting on the patient experience will be great.”

Victorian health services are able to access results for their health service via the VHES Reporting portal. To find out more about the VHES program, please contact [email protected]