Using Real-time Patient Feedback to Achieve Magnet Designation

Using Real-time Patient Feedback to Achieve Magnet Designation

“Magnet hospitals provide havens for quality care and happy nurses.”
– Kay Bensing, RN

During a national nursing shortage in 1983, the American Academy of Nursing (AAN) researched how work environments affected nurse satisfaction. Afterwards, they released findings showing that organizations with higher nurse recruitment and retention rates shared fourteen common traits they deemed “forces of magnetism.” The term “Magnet” emerged from their findings, and subsequently led to the development of the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC’s) Magnet Recognition Program.

Many facilities aim to achieve magnet designation — but how can you do so? The key, in this case, is real-time patient feedback.

What Is Magnet and Why Is It Important?

Magnet status is a prestigious recognition for organizations that exhibit nursing excellence and high-quality patient care. This designation allows leaders to use the nursing process to identify areas of strength or opportunities so that they can improve. In turn, a culture of respect, accountability, and patient safety is cultivated during the recognition process. For this reason, it is considered the “gold standard of nursing.”

Beyond external prestige, Magnet status also provides internal benefits such as:

  • Recruitment and retention of quality talent
  • Reduced training costs due to low staff turnover
  • Shared decision-making
  • Staff engagement
  • High-quality patient care based on best practices
  • Improved patient satisfaction
  • Positive patient outcomes (e.g. lower rates of infections, falls, and mortality)

Patient Experience: An Important Component to Achieving Magnet Designation

According to a survey from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, patients felt safer knowing that their facility properly follows infection control protocols. As a result, high-level designation of Magnet status goes beyond simply safe nursing care, also including an exceptional patient experience. Subsequently, the elite designation entices new patient acquisition due to its excellent nursing care and safety protocols.

Customer retention and continuity of care are also improved when patients know, like, and trust their providers. That is why Magnet facilities are recognized for their safe and positive work environments.

One of the pillars of Magnet designation is patient experience. Additionally, nurse satisfaction rates and nurse-sensitive indicators are important as well.

All in all, there are nine Magnet-approved domains that make up the Patient Experience Pillar:

  1. Patient Engagement
  2. Patient Education
  3. Care Coordination (How well did the team work together to care for you?)
  4. Safety
  5. Service Recovery
  6. Courtesy and Respect (For example, a department might ask “Overall, were the nursing staff members on the mother-baby unit polite and friendly after your birth?”)
  7. Responsiveness
  8. Pain
  9. Careful Listening (How well did your nurses communicate with you regarding your care?)

Organizations seeking Magnet designation choose to show how four of the nine patient experience domains are most meaningful to them. Previously, qualitative answers were critical for Magnet status. However, 75% of the process is now based on data. The decision-making process includes empirical data such as the rate of patient falls, mortality rates, and patient survey data. These determine if an organization earns Magnet status. The organization must outperform the national mean of empirical data for five out of eight consecutive quarters of the application period.

How to Use Real-time Patient Feedback and Service Recovery to Help with Magnet Designation

Here is an all-too common scenario: Mr. Green went to his annual physical even though it always makes him nervous. The receptionist called him by his appointment time, and it felt impersonal. Then during his exam, the nurse and provider rarely made eye contact and seemed rushed. They informed him that he had high blood pressure and to come back in two months for a follow-up. He didn’t ask any questions because he didn’t want to take more of their time.

A few weeks later, Mr. Green received a survey about his experience in the mail and shared his concerns. Two months passed without a response. Later when he went to his blood pressure follow-up appointment, his experience was the same. Afterwards since he felt uncomfortable, he didn’t bother to reschedule.

Stories like Mr. Green’s do not bode well for Magnet designation.

Time is of the Essence

95% of patients said that careful listening and being treated with courtesy and respect are crucial factors for a positive experience with their healthcare providers. Sometimes, having a listening ear helps them resolve their concerns. Without a response to their feedback about their negative experience, patients may not feel heard.

With real-time feedback, nurse leaders can reach out quickly to patients who leave low score reviews or concerning comments. Rapid response to patient concerns allows for more impactful customer service recovery and an adjustment of quality concerns.

Schneck Medical Center provides an example of how they use real-time surveys for service recovery and Magnet designation. Their surveys are short and are sent out immediately after an outpatient visit, which led to more timely and relevant responses. Many of their patients stated that they received the survey before arriving home from the appointment, presenting an opportunity for immediate service recovery. Nurse leaders set up alerts regarding low survey scores so they can promptly reach out and provide an empathetic ear and address any issues.

Monitoring this data has helped Schneck identify areas for improvement and make necessary adjustments quickly. Narrowing the focus of the survey with fewer questions decreases data input fatigue and enables them to outperform the patient experience means to meet Magnet criteria.

Transparency surrounding real-time data for individual nurses helps with encouragement and accountability. Nurses and providers are more engaged because they have data about how patients in their community feel about the care received. It’s no coincidence then, that Schneck Medical Center recently achieved its fourth consecutive Magnet designation.

Conclusion: Real-Time Patient Feedback is Key to Magnet Designation

Magnet status shines a light on nursing excellence and is an indicator of superior, patient-centered care. Delivering a measurable, positive patient experience is necessary for achieving Magnet designation that requires the commitment of nursing leadership to provide adequate resources to achieve success.

By utilizing real-time patient feedback tools, nurse leaders and chief experience officers can listen to patients in the moment, and institute service recovery immediately. Health systems like Schneck Medical Center are moving beyond outdated, retrospective paper surveys and leveraging technology to listen to their patients at the point of care. To conclude, evaluation of this type of immediate feedback helps organizations continually improve on national clinical metrics and provide exceptional patient experience, all but ensuring Magnet designation.


American Nurses Credentialing Center. (2020). NEW 2020 Magnet Mission and Vision Statement. 
Barnes Jewish Hospital. (2021). The Benefits of Becoming a Magnet Designated Facility. Retrieved from: MAGNET RECOGNITION PROGRAM
Becker’s Hospital Review. (2020). 6 ways hospitals and clinics can help patients feel safe when seeking care.
Quality Reviews. (2021). An Insider’s View on Schneck Medical Center’s Journey to Becoming a Four-Time Magnet Designation Recipient.


Brandi Jones MSN-Ed, RN-BC is a board-certified registered nurse specializing in staff development. She writes educational content, blogs & articles and lives with her husband and springer spaniel in Arkansas. Jones loves camping and tapping into her creativity in her downtime. You can find her at

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