Healthcare News & Insights

Patient satisfaction can affect your revenue

How much does patient satisfaction factor into your hospital’s plan of care? Probably more now than ever before, since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began withholding 1% of hospitals’ Medicare reimbursement as part of its Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program.

Considering patients’ happiness is a difficult thing to measure, hospitals now have their work cut out for them.

While hospital executives may find it hard to measure patients’ happiness, CMS doesn’t. That’s why they’re  now basing 30% of the federal program’s financial incentive on how well you score on patient satisfaction measured by the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey.

If you’re thinking the HCAHPS survey isn’t anything new, you’re right. But basing hospital’s reimbursement on it is controversial. That’s because a happy patient isn’t necessarily the patient who received the best care. And some analysts believe the HCAHPS has unintended biases.

Flawed reporting system?

The Hospitalist reported that some of the most prestigious hospitals in the U.S. receive bad patient reviews and yet they get high scores on clinical quality metrics. On the other hand, some hospitals that get great patient satisfaction ratings have scored significantly lower than the national average on mortality rates for heart attacks, heart failure or pneumonia.

Plus, there are just some hospitals that score low on all of the HCAHPS patient experience measures, such as safety-net hospitals, teaching hospitals and large hospitals in general. And some of these facilities, especially the safety-net hospitals, are the ones that are already hurting for money and can’t afford to have any more cuts made to their reimbursements.

The geographical region a hospital is located in also causes disparities in survey scores, with cities and the Northeast and California regularly scoring lower than other places.

Best practices

While the HCAHPS may be flawed in some ways, its purpose isn’t. It’s important for hospitals to take into consideration patients’ satisfaction with their care. If they don’t like the treatment they received, they probably won’t come back and will spread the word. And negative word-0f-mouth publicity is something hospitals definitely don’t need.

Here are some best practices that can help boost patient satisfaction scores:

  • share performance data with your physicians
  • share the practices of physician who received high patient satisfaction scores
  • employ joint physician-nurse rounds, conducted hourly
  • invest time in the beginning to get to know the patient and let them know what to expect
  • ask patients for any concerns they have
  • speak to patients and their families, and
  • be empathetic.

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