Survey says: Check the box

Sept. 1, 2010

Topics are based on inquiries received, noted trends in healthcare, emerging technology, phlebotomy best practices, and matters of safety and regulatory compliance pertinent to the pre-examination phase of clinical laboratory testing. Some recent survey questions include:

  • Does your facility formally evaluate the competence of all staff members who perform phlebotomy procedures?
  • Is the use of butterfly needles limited at your facility?
  • Does your facility stock glass blood-collection tubes (not including blood cultures)?
  • If your blood-collection staff covers multiple shifts, how would you describe the shift change?
  • When you draw blue-top citrate tubes for coagulation testing, at what temperature do you transport them to the lab?

The Center compiles the responses received and summarizes the results for readers in its “Survey Says” column of its free monthly e-newsletter, Phlebotomy Today-STAT! Publishing the results of monthly surveys allows readers to compare themselves and their blood-sample-collection practices to those of other respondents and facilities. It also provides the Center with an opportunity to educate and promote phlebotomy best practices in accordance with Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) standards and guidelines and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, where applicable.

Posting monthly survey questions and presenting the findings in light of prevailing standards to its readership is just one way the Center fulfills its mission. “The mission of our company is to be a dependable source of accurate information on blood-collection procedures, to share that information in a multitude of ways, and to elevate the status of the phlebotomy profession,” Ballance says.

The surveys help the Center to assess the educational needs and challenges of the healthcare community it serves and then develop educational resources to help meet those needs. Survey topics that have generated very impassioned and/or a high number of responses may result in a full-blown feature article in its newsletters to allow for a more detailed discussion.

“Our survey participants represent the phlebotomy frontline in that the majority of respondents are drawing patients every day, supervising those tasked with blood-collection responsibilities, or educating healthcare professionals in proper phlebotomy procedures,” Ballance says.

Because the phlebotomy profession is unregulated in most states, misinformation exists. “Our surveys serve as a reliable source of information in that they address topics relevant to the phlebotomy community and allow for the sharing of ideas and solutions, all within the context of promoting proper blood-specimen-collection and regulatory compliance as defined by the prevailing standard of care,” Ballance says.

Publisher queries readers
As a publishing company, NP Communications LLC — MLO's home base — surveys the readers of its business-to-business magazines as well as its advertisers. An annual subscriber profile is performed for each publication early each year in order to analyze the quality of circulation as well as trends and the needs of its reader base. Some individual surveys are done at the request of an advertiser to test the effectiveness of its ad campaign or the value of a new product introduction. Many of the same survey questions are asked each year to form a comparative basis. Other questions are added to determine readers' interest in various topics.

Survey data influences decisions the company makes. Product and editorial trends are analyzed to make adjustments to a publication's editorial calendar. Responses can also influence the need for the circulation department to adjust its segmented weight, since publications operate under a closed circulation (i.e., the number of issues is pre-determined).

“Our survey results are not scientific but statistical and are considered just one of many tools to make corporate decisions,” says Joan Sutherland, director of marketing at the Nokomis, FL-based publishing house. “In marketing, we have seen a growing interest from advertisers in the ability of surveys to justify their ad campaigns but, at the same time, we have also seen the importance of surveys to readers diminish as the number of poll results quoted in the press increases,” Sutherland says. “Results from electronic polling have become generally accepted as fact, which may explain the number of contradictory survey results reported on numerous topics, especially in the political world. Electronic polling is fast, inexpensive, and able to give a general overview of public opinion, but it should not be the only research used to make important, strategic decisions.”