Six Successful Tips For Surveys

Richard P. Kusserow | February 2015

Survey results provide meaningful metrics that identify strengths in the compliance program, as well as identify areas that may require more focused attention.  Survey results also provide a powerful report to the Board’s Compliance Committee, as well as outside government authority, that may question the effectiveness of the compliance program. But not all surveys can provide meaningful metrics. Below are several tips to consider in order to have an effective survey that will produce reliable results.

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Six Successful Tips for Surveys

  1. Use an independent party. Anyone can draft a questionnaire. However, it may not produce reliable, valid and credible results, especially to an outside party. Internally developed and administered surveys may be questioned as to potential bias or reliability, both in preparation and administration.
  1. Use a valid and tested survey instrument. Contracting with a survey vendor has many benefits. One such benefit is that their survey instrument has been utilized and tested by many organizations and results are reliable.
  1. Surveys don’t have to cost a lot. Professionally developed and administered surveys can cost less than surveys delivered internally. Survey vendors are able to amortize the development and maintenance costs across hundreds of clients, which keeps the cost low for clients.
  1. Ensure anonymity of participants. Inform participants that the survey results are anonymous and help confidentially. Granting participants’ anonymity will increase the likelihood that the survey will be completed.
  1. Benchmark results against like organizations. Ideally, survey results should provide added value to compliance program metrics. One specific way this can be achieved is by comparing your results against the results of similar organizations. This can only be done if the organization has taken the same survey, which is easily done when using a survey vendor. The benchmarked results will show how you rank next to peers. Additionally, if your organization utilizes the same survey instrument over a period of time, you can generate benchmark data from past surveys. This is an effective way to evidence improvements within your compliance program.
  1. Receive certified results. For optimum credibility, all survey results should certify that a valid and reliable survey instrument was used. Furthermore, the report must certify that the administration and analysis of the survey and results meet independent and objective standards.

About the Author

Richard P. Kusserow established Strategic Management Services, LLC, after retiring from being the DHHS Inspector General, and has assisted over 3,000 health care organizations and entities in developing, implementing and assessing compliance programs.