By David Vergun, Army News ServiceJanuary 3, 2018
WASHINGTON -- Results of the Joint Outpatient Experience Survey, or JOES, are in for 2017 and Soldiers, retirees and family members reported very high overall satisfaction, 93 percent, for their experience at Army medical treatment facilities, also known as MTFs, said Dr. Melissa Gliner.
Gliner, senior health policy analyst, with the Office of the Army Surgeon General, said the other two big metrics are: ease of access to Army providers, 83 percent positive (highest in the military health services); and, overall experience with Army pharmacies, 78 percent positive.
The results of the survey show an overall increase in satisfaction of about 2 percent for those three questions over 2016, the year the Army first participated in the survey, she said.
A total of about 2.7 million surveys go out annually to about 10 percent of patients who have visited an MTF in a random selection process, she said. At first, only paper surveys were distributed, but since last month, a website has been set up for taking the short, two-page survey.
Strict confidentiality is maintained at all times, she added.
Gliner, who is a statistician by training, interprets the results and shares them with representatives from all of the MTFs on a regular basis.
MTFs, she said, are eager to learn the survey results and understand what's working and what can be improved.
One incentive for getting high survey scores is a monetary award that's given to the best performing MTFs, she noted. Also, performance reviews are tied to the results.
Besides sharing the results with the MTFs, Gliner said she also offers advice on ways to improve the patient experience.
For instance, Gliner said she looks at civilian treatment facilities to see what works well, and shares that information with the MTFs. One example, she said is having staff members circulate in the waiting area to chat with patients so they don't feel they're being ignored. That's one way to elevate scores.
Another finding from the survey was that some patients experience frustration during their initial call to schedule an appointment. Some are told to call back because there were no appointments. Some MTFs are now retraining the clerks who take the calls to get the appointments set up without having to call back, she said.
Gliner said that the U.S. Army Medical Command is working to stand up a website that will better help MTFs share their ideas and further elevate patient experience and survey scores.