SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Patient Experience Improvement Efforts

By Ken Tonjes


November 20, 2015
Friday PM

Thank you Mr. Plamondon for taking time to let me know your thoughts on how we can improve our organization and facility, both through your SitNews letter and through the surveys you completed. Patient feedback is essential to ensure the continuation of high-quality health care in our community. I'm sorry the patient experience survey process has been frustrating for you. Your comments provide me an opportunity to clarify the survey's purpose and let our community know what we're doing to help address your frustrations.

First, I want to assure you that the careful spending of our resources is one of the most important responsibilities for me as chief administrative officer; providing safe, high-quality, compassionate care to our patients being the most important. Patient surveys are important not only because they help us learn how we can improve care for our patients, they are also required by some government payers.

We read every comment we receive from our patients and regularly review the results to help us identify those areas that need extra attention. I am pleased to tell you, that based on feedback from these surveys, we recently changed the process of surveying our clinic patients to include an online option so patients can receive and respond electronically. Since we made this change, we've been collecting patients' e-mail addresses to help save on printing and postage costs and make the completion process as easy as possible. Next time you are at one of our clinics, let a receptionist know that you would like to receive future surveys by e-mail. If you stay in the hospital, you may still receive a survey by postal mail, as we are unable to offer the online surveys for hospital patients due to federal regulatory requirements that PeaceHealth must follow as a system.

We hope our patients recognize the importance of completing these surveys, but we realize some may want to opt out of the process all together. As part of our Patient Experience Improvement efforts, we appointed a Patient Advocate to work with patients and families and set up a dedicated line for optimum privacy, (907) 228-8149. Patients can call this number to provide feedback about their care experience or ask to be removed from the survey process.

At the risk of my letter being a bit too long, I want to mention another key point. It is likely in the near future that Medicare and Medicaid will consider these survey results when determining what percentage of our charges they will pay. To ensure full payments to our community's medical center in the future, we are focusing now on improving our care in the areas identified by our patients.

Finally, I would like you and the rest of our community to know that in the last year we established a Patient Experience Improvement team, which includes patients and family members working with our caregivers. This team's goal is to continuously improve the care we provide our patients. I am excited about the innovative approaches this team is taking to bring about changes in so many areas of patient care. As the group focuses its efforts on various aspects of care-from hospital to clinics to billing-I hope you and our other patients will have an even better experience when coming to us for future care.


Ken Tonjes
Chief Administrative Officer
PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center
Ketchikan, Alaska


Received November 19, 2015 - Published November 20, 2015

Related Viewpoint:

letter Open Letter To: Chief Admin. Officer and Chief Financial Officer PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center By Clement Plamondon


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