Been a patient at SVHC recently? You may get a call about your experience!

At Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC), our mission is to provide exceptional health care and comfort to every patient. While we can easily measure our medical results, it’s truly our patients who can let us know first-hand how we’re doing.

That’s why SVHC has teamed up with NRC Picker, a national company that specializes in giving health care organizations feedback about patient experiences. NRC Picker has developed a series of questions through their own research and combined them with questions we’re required to ask by the government to help us see if we’re meeting our overall goal of providing great patient care. And that’s why; if you’ve been a recent patient in the hospital or received one of our outpatient services, you might get a phone call asking you about your care.

Studies have shown that talking with people directly offers a clearer picture of what patients experience than sending out a paper or electronic survey. The NRC Picker survey asks questions related to what patients want; what patients value; what will help or hinder their ability to manage their health issues; and what aspects of care are most important to them and their families.

There is also a greater response to telephoned surveys. The more responses we get, the better we can tell how we’re doing and what might need to change.

If you are called, the number on your caller ID will be a local Vermont number; however, the call is actually coming from a company in Colorado called Discovery Research Group (DRG). DRG is a company that specializes in conducting telephone surveys. NRC Picker hired DRG to conduct its telephone surveys nationwide.

Be assured that your health information will remain confidential throughout the survey process. Although DRG has your name, telephone number, date of service, and type of service (such as hospital stay, outpatient rehab, etc.), they do not have any information about your health, diagnosis, insurance, or anything else protected by law.

Taking the survey is voluntary and we hope you’ll take the time to answer a few questions. NRC Picker compiles our patients’ answers and lets us know where we’re succeeding and where we need to improve. We can also track how we’re doing over time and see how we compare to other health care organizations across the country.

We also use this information to provide better patient and family-centered care. Several years ago, for example, when we created the Women’s Imaging Suite, we used our patients’ feedback to help design the new center. The separate imaging suite has soothing colors, a calmer atmosphere, and all-female personnel to help make the experience of getting a mammogram or breast ultrasound less stressful and more suitable to women’s needs.

So, thanks ahead of time for taking the survey if you’re called. We’ll listen — and you’ll help improve things for SVHC patients.


Alex Heinz is the administrative director for patient safety & quality at Southwestern Vermont Health Care. “Health Matters” is a weekly column meant to educate readers about their personal health, public health matters, and public policy as it affects health care.