By Hope Myers Paraglide

After a visit to their local provider, many Soldiers and their Families see a patient survey appear in their email or mailbox. The Army Provider Level Satisfaction Survey, also referred to as APLSS, is a survey administered by the Office of the U.S. Army Surgeon General.

When patients receive this survey, they are given the opportunity to influence the quality of health care they will receive during future visits.

Randomly selected patients receive a survey via e-mail or mail within 48 hours of a visit with their provider. Many patients may wonder why they should not immediately press the delete button.

However, the survey is worth a lot more filled out and sent back. Ultimately, Army medicine is only as good as the patients say it is.

"We want to know where we are performing well and where improvements are needed. Your responses are reviewed and analyzed to determine what is important to you," said Marisa Lyerly with the Womack Army Medical Center public affairs office. "Your feedback is used by Womack to make changes to improve your patient experience. Patient information is not included, so your identity remains completely confidential."

Completing the survey takes time, but also provides a valuable return -- the patient's opinion. These returned surveys also provide a profit. Returned surveys are tied to funds WAMC can use to improve patient services. These improvements include anything from upgrading amenities, to purchasing equipment, to expanding services and service hours.

For every positive response to question number 20 of the survey (patient satisfaction with the provider during their visit), the hospital will receive between $100 and $500. Positive responses to questions 9, 13, and 21 (pertaining to phone service, courtesy and helpfulness of staff, ability to see the provider) generate between $25 and $100.

"Of course, we want to see positive responses," said Lyerly. "However, we also need to hear about areas in need of improvement. We will use your feedback to improve."

So, the next time you get one of these envelopes with the Army medicine logo in the mail or an e-mail in your inbox, take those few minutes to complete the survey and return it just as soon as you can. Everyone benefits from your response.