Less may be more when it comes to surveying patients on their care.

An effort by New York City-based Hospital for Special Surgery to increase completion rates of patient outcome surveys resulted in shorter surveys for patients who had hip and knee replacements, without compromising the quality of the results.

“Our surgeons were worried that the [older] surveys were too long, and that patients were not completely filling them out,” says Stephen Lyman, director of the Hospital for Special Surgery’s Healthcare Research Institute. “They needed a more efficient method.”

The intent of the surveys is to gauge patients’ abilities and sense of well-being after surgery, so the more patients who complete the survey, the more useful the results become.

With that in mind, a multidisciplinary team from the hospital used statistical modeling methods to drastically reduce the original number of questions on Medicare’s recommended surveys. The Hip disability and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, or HOOS — and its 40 questions — was replaced with the six-question HOOS Jr. The Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score, which asks 42 questions, was replaced with the seven-question KOOS Jr.

Although data are not yet available, Lyman expects the number of patients who complete the surveys to increase substantially.

HSS, which independently revised the surveys, validated that the junior versions could generate reliable scores, and the findings were published in Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research in late February.

Beginning this month, Medicare was set to start the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement program, and the program has designated the surveys as appropriate for surveying patients on outcomes within the program.

The survey is available on the hospital’s website now, and results will be available to consumers on Healthcare.gov. “Patients will now have national comparative data regarding hospitals and surgeons and the effectiveness of their treatments,” Lyman says.