Feedback Leads to Improvements

“Feedback from patients allows us to focus on what matters to our patients and their families,” said Cathy Covino, Senior Director of Quality and Risk Management.

Feedback from patients and family members regularly leads to improvements. At Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, it has resulted in a wide array of changes, such as increased parking spaces, better access after-hours, and improved use of patient waiting rooms. 

“We are always looking for feedback,” said Cathy Covino, Senior Director of Quality and Risk Management. “We want to know where we can improve so we can focus on what matters to our patients and their families.”

Comment cards can be completed and submitted in suggestion boxes  in many high traffic areas in the Hospital;We’ve made it easy for patients and family members to have a say about an experience the Hospital. There are many ways to provide feedback:

  • Comment forms can be downloaded  from the website and submitted by mail;
  • Handwritten or typed letters by mail are welcome;
  • Comments can be submitted online at;
  • Anyone can call 807-684-6000 and ask for Patient Services or Quality and Risk Management.

Submitting feedback online, from the comfort of home, allows time to gather thoughts and reflect on the experience, good or bad.  The on-line form lets people contribute feedback any time, any place.

The online submission form helps to track trends and generates reports that are sent to those who will make change, such as managers and the Board of Directors. “The software also tracks when concerns have been submitted and responded to, so we can be sure they are addressed in a timely manner,” explained Covino.

A working group, including Patient and Family Advisors (PFA), is looking at how we can shorten our expected time of responding to feedback. “In most situations the experts in the area are able to respond to the concerns identified. Some situations may require the Chief of Staff and I to meet with the patient and their family to discuss a particular concern,” said Covino.

“The Patient Relations working group has opened my eyes to how much work goes on to ensure the Patient’s voice is heard and how important it is to the organization to have feedback from people receiving service from the hospital,“ said Helen Williamson Alexander, PFA. “Even though we have Patient and Family Advisors on all Committees in the organization, the feedback received through the Patient relations process is both situational and allows for trending to identify areas for improvement.  The Committees can then use the data to make changes in their departments or look for overall system changes.”  

Anyone who submits a compliment or concern and provides an email or mailing address gets a letter to let them know the feedback was received. Concerns are forwarded to the manager of the appropriate department, and a lead is assigned to investigate, respond to and resolve to the concern.  

Compliments are forwarded directly to any employee mentioned, along with a congratulatory letter from Hospital President & CEO, Jean Bartkowiak.  This is a great way to recognize staff for their efforts. Patient compliments have consistently outweighed concerns since 2007.

To make the process even more efficient, we are implementing a best practice toolkit developed by the Ontario Hospital Association. We are also involved in a Health Quality Ontario pilot project to review the Patient Relations process and what indicators should be publicly reported in the future.