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How Tennessee Oncology is getting patients to say how they really feel

Eleanor Kennedy, Nashville Business Journal

Nashville-based Tennessee Oncology wants to know exactly how patients are feeling about their experience – exactly when they’re feeling it.

“One of the big focuses in the evolving landscape of health care is patient engagement,” said Dr. Jeff Patton, Tennessee Oncology CEO. “What better way to get them engaged than to give you feedback on what kind of a job you’re doing?”

Through a program recently launched by the group, patients visiting Tennessee Oncology offices are given the option to use a Goodsnitch Express Feedback tablet to share their thoughts on everything from check-in to doctor visits to clinic cleanliness.

The application also lets patients name “everyday heroes” who have made a difference in their experience, something Patton says is a boon to boosting employee morale and creating “a positive feedback loop.”

Rob Pace, founder of San Diego-based Goodsnitch, said the app is being implemented in a variety of different industries, from professional sports (the Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Padres both use it) to churches to cities, but he sees a real opportunity for its effectiveness in health care.

“I think health care is a natural place,” Pace said, for the use of what he calls “fast data … the ability to connect with customers in real time.”

Goodsnitch’s program is designed to seek out positive, constructive, customer-to-business feedback and avoid the online review tendency toward only the unhappy speaking out, Pace said. But Patton said Tennessee Oncology is looking for areas that need improvement as well.

Patient responses don’t go to employees until its been vetted by management, he added, and negative comments are only shared if they deal with “an inappropriate behavior that needs to be addressed” or represents a pattern the office could improve.

“The negative feedback we’ve had have not been personal,” Patton said. “It’s been, ‘I had to wait long,’ and that’s the type of feedback that we want.”