Healthcare News & Insights

Child patient satisfaction scores may affect payments

465326275Hospitals worry about adult patient satisfaction scores affecting their reimbursement – but now a new scoring system for pediatric patients may also start playing a role in how facilities get paid.

Typically, adult patient satisfaction scores are obtained using the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, which is administered by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

There wasn’t any system in place for pediatric patients and their families to rate the care they received in the hospital – until now.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recently posted a version of the HCAHPS survey on its website that’s tailored specifically to children and their health care. Known as the Child HCAHPS, this survey measures the experience of children and their families during a hospital stay.

CMS partnered with AHRQ to create the survey because CMS had no way to compare hospitals’ performance in treating children. Particularly, CMS wants more data in three key areas: care coordination, pediatric inpatient care and the patient experience as a whole, according to a recent article in Modern Healthcare.

Survey measures

The questions on the Child HCAHPS survey were created by the AHRQ and the Center of Excellence for Pediatric Quality Measurement at Boston Children’s Hospital. After several years of development, including interviews with research experts and multiple field tests involving patients and families, the final survey was released on the AHRQ’s website last fall.

Besides the questions that are included on the adult version of the survey, the child HCAHPS survey also has questions that relate more closely to a child’s care in the hospital.

It covers topics such as:

  • Communication with parent. Questions in this area address communication between the child’s parents and clinical staff (doctors and nurses), communication about the child’s medications, being informed about the child’s care in the hospital and/or the emergency room, privacy when talking with clinicians, and preparing the young patient and his or her family for discharge.
  • Communication with child. These questions address how well doctors and nurses communicate directly with the patient. For teenagers, separate questions ask how well clinical staff involve them in their care.
  • Attention to safety and comfort. Topics these questions address include preventing mistakes and helping parents report concerns, making the child feel comfortable in the hospital, paying attention to the young patient’s pain and how quickly staff respond to the call button.

Testing it out

To evaluate the effectiveness of the new survey, CMS is working on a pilot project this year that uses the Child HCAHPS to review patients’ experience with pediatric treatment at hospitals.

Based on the results, CMS may make the survey a core requirement for data reporting down the line for patients who receive Medicaid or who are insured through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), said the Modern Healthcare article.

This will become especially crucial as CMS shifts more toward a value-based care model of reimbursement. Per the Modern Healthcare article, the results from the adult HCAHPS survey in fiscal year 2014 made up 30% of hospitals’ total performance scores in CMS’ inpatient value-based purchasing program.

Judging from this, if CMS does decide to start requiring the Child HCAHPS survey for pediatric patients receiving Medicaid or CHIP, it may have a significant impact on your hospital’s reimbursement. So it’s key for facilities to start getting ready for this potential development.

How hospitals can prepare

Many children’s hospitals, or hospital departments that exclusively treat children, already go the extra mile for their patients, since they understand that children may need more of the comforts of home while they’re in the hospital recovering from invasive treatment or serious illness.

But knowing that children’s patient satisfaction scores may become crucial to reimbursement might be the perfect reminder for facilities to be sure they’re doing everything they can to help their peidiatric patients have a comfortable stay.

If this development could affect your hospital, it may be a good idea to take the initiative now and start surveying pediatric patients and their families on your own. That way, you can gauge their current level of satisfaction with your facility and its services.

Not only will you get a clearer idea of how your facility is performing, you’ll get ideas about where you can improve your care process. This will give you a leg up on meeting patients’ needs, which could help your bottom line if pediatric satisfaction scores start affecting how much you get paid.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest healthcare news and insights delivered to your inbox.