FORT SILL, Okla. (April 18, 2013) -- When John Schafer, Reynolds Army Community Hospital Clinical Operations deputy commander, hears someone say "apples" at the hospital, he doesn't think of delicious red, yellow or green fruit. To him it means APLSS - the Army Provider Level Satisfaction Survey, and it is an important thing.

"The satisfaction survey is administered by Army Medical Command and we have no involvement in it. After patients visit our hospital, an independent contractor hired by the Army randomly sends a survey to them to ask how we did in providing care for them," Schafer said. "They ask things like - Did we answer the phone properly? Did you have to wait a long time or was the wait appropriate? Did you receive proper care? Did you like the overall experience at Reynolds? Then the Army takes the survey results, collates them and gives them to us so we can improve our care services."

Schafer is very interested in knowing how the hospital is doing with regards to providing medical services to the Fort Sill community. However, he said that even with the surveys being sent out, the hospital staff often doesn't know if they are doing a good job.

"Patients come to Reynolds and we do a good job treating them, I believe. But they don't often tell us, because they are busy and they move on with their lives. And, they don't fill out those surveys when they do receive them. That's fine, except for one thing. Army Medicine ties money to those surveys. Right now, more than ever, with the financial situations in the military, we really need our patients to fill out those surveys, and tell us what they think of us and the services we provide to them, good or bad," he said.

Schafer stated RACH receives up to $500 for every patient satisfaction survey returned to the Army. He sees that as some significant money that is being "left on the table" because those surveys are not being filled out and returned.

"For example, in a six-month period ending February 2012, the Army sent out 22,000 surveys to patients who came to RACH. Our patients only returned 2,400 of those surveys. Soldiers, in particular, often don't send them back. Almost 10,000 Soldiers were treated here during that six-month period, but only 400 of their surveys came back," Schafer said, adding,"of the surveys sent to 8,000 families that were treated here, only 600 came back. The group that did the best job was our patients over age 65 where 800 of them were treated and 500 patients sent their surveys back. That's a good percentage, and we appreciate it."

The message Schafer wants to give to the Fort Sill community is that having patients fill out the APLSS surveys can tremendously help RACH improve its services.

"Sure, we want to know whether we are doing a good job providing for the medical needs of our patients, but if those surveys are returned, it can turn into some significant money for the hospital," he said. "If we can go from 400 surveys returned a month to 1,000, then we would have a significant revenue stream, which would help us purchase supplies and services, and add personnel. So that's why I want people to fill out those surveys.

"We score very well on the surveys that we do get back, but we are just not getting enough returned. We really need a more accurate sample of how people feel about the medical services they received here at Reynolds," Schafer said.