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Ask and You Shall Receive: Leveraging the Power of Surveys in Your SPD

What did your new employees think about their orientation process? How does the operating room feel about the new policy on instrument turnover requests? Is there anything your leadership team could be doing better to recognize your technicians for going above and beyond? Each of these questions has an answer, and it’s an answer that would be helpful for you to know.

How do you get people talking? One of the best tools available for getting at these insights and walking away with information that you can use is an online survey questionnaire. We’ll take a look at a couple of examples of what these can look like and how they can help you improve your sterile processing department today and in the years to come.

Department pulse survey
If you’ve never done an internal survey of your team before, a department pulse survey is a good place to start. This is a short questionnaire that asks for employee feedback on various aspects of department life. Even though you may already have random one-on-one conversations on the same topics, or bring up similar issues during your staff meetings, a pulse survey allows you to gather these insights anonymously to ensure you really get to the heart of your team’s feelings about the current state of the department culture, direction, and atmosphere. As with the other surveys discussed below, you also gain benchmark data that you can then target and track improvement in your department over time. Are your new PTO policies having the effect that you intended? Is your third shift feeling more and more neglected? A pulse survey can take a snapshot of the current state and give you a starting point from which to shift directions if you need to.

Example questions for your department pulse survey could include things like:

  • How would you rate the amount of recognition your supervisor gives you for a job well done?
  • How would you rate the amount of opportunities provided to you for job-related growth and development?
  • Did you ever feel pressured to work independently prior to receiving adequate training on a department task?

Agreeing as a leadership team to share the results of your survey with your technicians and then working collaboratively to address any opportunities is a great way to build trust and cultivate transparent communication among the team.

Customer feedback survey
As important as internal surveys of your team may be, there is also tremendous value in obtaining feedback from your sterile processing customers: operating room staff, surgeons, clinics, vendor reps, etc. Customer feedback surveys are an easy, low-stress way to understand how current procedures, new policies, and ongoing projects are being received by those outside of your department. Even though it can be easy to assume that no news is good news or silence is golden, the reality is that people respond in all kinds of ways to customer service concerns, and it’s not always by coming down to your office and knocking on your door. New products or procedures that impact an end-user—such as type of chemical indicator used, new rigid containers, updated count sheets, and new storage locations—can have a positive or negative impact on how your customers trust your team. Customer feedback surveys can help you pinpoint potential issues before they grow into full-scale mutinies and project failures, especially if they are use proactively, prior to a change being made.

Example questions for your customer feedback survey could include:

  • How well do you feel the recent policy change was communicated to your team?
  • Did you feel like your concerns were adequately addressed in the clinical education provided by sterile processing leaders?
  • Did the new signage that was installed in your area clearly explain the updated process and answer basic questions?
  • How would you rate your level of trust that our sterile processing team can sustain this new procedure and ensure improvements continue in your area?

Using this survey to get specific answers around recent changes and to ensure open conversations between you and your customers makes this tool a great resource for improvement-minded leaders.

Employee satisfaction survey (hospital-wide)
A final survey option is one that you and your team are probably most familiar with, the annual employee satisfaction survey that many hospitals and health systems use to get a high-level picture of the cultural state of their facilities and individual departments. Even though this is not a survey you distribute or control, it does provide an amazing opportunity for you and your team to compare the cultural work that you have done with other departments in your hospital.

Common questions you’ll see on these surveys include:

  • Would you recommend your department to your friends and family as a great place to work?
  • Do you feel fulfilled by you job and believe in the mission of the organization?
  • Do you agree that your facility is a leader in pursuing safety for patients as a primary goal?

If you are already putting in the hard work of cultivating open communication across your team and reaping the rewards of collaborative improvement, these hospital-wide satisfaction surveys are your time to shine. Because hospital administrators and C-suite leaders review the results of these surveys, scoring high as a department can put you and your team on the map and top of mind as a department that is on the right track. There’s no better place to be when you ask a few weeks later for capital requests or additional staffing to sustain to cultural improvements you’ve made.

While not the only way to make informed changes and check up on your sterile processing team and customer feedback, surveys can serve as an easy-to-use, reproducible resource that can help you along your path to department growth. At the end of the day, every one likes to be heard. Surveys ensure this happens and that leaders have the data to take the next step.

On a scale of 1–10, how ready are you to get started asking more questions today?

Feature articles exclusively for Ultra Clean Systems by Weston “Hank” Balch, BS, MDiv, CRCST, CER, CIS, CHL

Weapon of Mass Microbial Destruction * Professional Clean Freak * Podcast Host * Safety Addict * CS/SPD Consultant

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