Twenty years of patient surveys: What’s not working and how to improve the process

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  • Gilbert Gallant says:

    Health care for me was excellent,very professional.

  • Dave Smith says:

    Lack of technical competence on the part of employee’s at CIHI such as Rob Huxter is the problem. A new generation of dynamic leaders is needed desperately.

  • sam says:

    Patient surveys are nothing more than to make it seem that responses will create change. Everyone knows what the problems are.

  • Shawn Tracy says:

    In an earlier comment above, I tried to explain why it’s important to think about (and to measure) the patient experience as conceptually distinct from health outcomes… but this wonderful piece just published in CMAJ does a much better job of it:

    “Three” by Calvin Santiago [CMAJ — May 13, 2019. 191 (19) E537-E538.]

  • france legare says:

    Very interesting. Results of @CIHI_ICIS #patientexperience survey are congruent with
    Shared decision-making experienced by Canadians facing health care decisions: a Web-based survey Julie Haesebaert, MD PhD, et al. CMAJ Open. 2019 Apr 4;7(2):E210-E216. doi: 10.9778/cmajo.20180202.
    Of the 1591 participants surveyed, 1010 (63.5%) reported receiving health care in the previous 12 months. The mean of the average shared decision-making score was 2.25/5 (standard deviation [SD] 1.16). After weighting, 42.8% of respondents reported that their health care professional often or always mentioned that they had a choice of treatment or care plan, 45.4% reported that advantages and disadvantages were often or always presented, 38.8% reported that they were often or always asked for their ideas or preferences, 40.2% reported that they were often or always asked about their preferred option, and 54.1% stated that their level of participation in decision-making often or always matched their preferred level of participation. Increasing age, rural setting, living in the province of Quebec and not being white significantly decreased the level of shared decision-making experienced. Older respondents (age ≥ 65 yr) receiving home care reported the least shared decision-making (mean score 1.7 [SD 0.5]).


  • Jessica Bourgeois says:

    Our health care system is broken corrupt and does not work. Ontario: 2017: 500 doctors taking home (NOT earning) in excess of 1 million dollars each and the highest paid in excess of six million dollars…sick kids CEO 750,000 annually, all CEO’s making obscene money … I would not mind if what we were getting was in any way good. I waited 39 %$^&%##$ weeks for knee surgery. Our wait times are not getting better. FRANCE: FREE education for doctors – they have enough, AND they make in the range of 80K euros annually with the highest paid FAR below the BS that goes on here. FRANCE h as a co-pay system FOR THE RICH and the poor FREE. France has 70% approval rate on their system – OUR APPROVAL RATE IS LESS THAN 30%. When 70% of 36 million people tell you “s—-y job done” and people are dying because of it… FIX IT! Not rocket science! Not enough doctors….TRAIN MORE. Cannot afford to pay what we have…. FREE EDUCATION FOR MEDICAL STAFF and then….THEY WORK FOR US… our (reasonable) rates. Starbucks….a bloody coffee shop! has better more comprehensive and cost effective health care for their employees – AND MAKES MONEY AT IT! Not rocket science Not rocket science …..but …those who are corrupt in this whole affair …..are also powerful…..

  • chris de gara says:

    Patient hospital experience data lack scientific rigor
    Coming to hospital is scary, intimidating and never really a pleasant – no one wants to go to hospital..
    Co founders such as the patient (or family member) outcome are rarely if ever factored in
    A low acuity hospital dealing with mainly same day surgery is obviously going to be a better experience than attending a tertiary or quaternary down institution with a multi comorbidity disorder…

    • Shawn Tracy says:

      Patient experience surveys are designed to be independent of health outcomes. The 2 are conceptually distinct: it’s possible to for a hospital patient to have a positive experience with a negative outcome, or a negative experience with a positive outcome, or both positive, or both negative. The questions on the CIHI patient experience survey ask about things like whether patients were treated with courtesy and respect, whether hospital staff explained things in a way the patient could understand, whether patients got the support they needed to help with fears and worries, etc etc. Obviously, ALL patients deserve respect, support, etc regardless of whether they are in a low-acuity hospital or in a major tertiary care centre. Conducting the survey will determine the extent to which hospital patients are being provided the high quality experience that they deserve.

  • Carolyn Thomas says:

    Personally, I am sick and tired of completing surveys that I’m pretty sure are simply a “To Do’ item on some hospital staffer’s checklist to tick off (“…sent survey to Patient A”. Check.) Patients are justifiably suspicious of yet another survey which will produce few results if any, and zero feedback. Why waste our time?

    And really, do hospital admins need a survey to decide whether or not “explaining medications” to a patient before discharge is a basic requirement? Should Alberta be pleased with their top ranking 62% score? Shouldn’t that number be routinely expected to be100%?

    If nothing is done to address a response, then why even ask the question? The Unity Health example (phonecall to patients within 72 hours of discharge) and the Kingston example with patient partner input are the way of the future (I HOPE!)

    Otherwise, stop bugging me with your surveys…


Alison Lai


Alison Lai is a fourth-year general internal medicine fellow with an interest in medical education and medical humanities.

Jeremy Petch


Jeremy is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, and has a PhD in Philosophy (Health Policy Ethics) from York University. He is the former managing editor of Healthy Debate and co-founded Faces of Healthcare

Serena Thompson


Serena Thompson is a single mom living in Toronto with sickle cell anemia and is dedicated to helping those who are also affected through community outreach. She sits on the Sickle Cell Association of Ontario’s Transition Team, Miss Caribbean Canada Pageant Planning Committee, Minister’s Patient and Family Advisory Council and is the Chair of the Ujima Sickle Cell Patient Emergency Fund.

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