Healthcare News & Insights

Strategies to improve HCAHPS scores in 2018

Healthcare facilities are being held to the same standards as the hospitality industry – where the patient experience is key. Since HCAHPS scores affect hospital reimbursements, excellent service remains at the forefront of patient care. Exemplary patient care equals financial stability and a good reputation for the hospital. In this guest post, Shari Dingle Costantini, RN, MBA, founder and CEO of a staffing company that specializes in the international recruitment of registered nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists, shares strategies from Chief Nursing Officers (CNOs) across the country who were gathered to participate in her company’s CNO round table.


Training your staff to improve HCAHPS scores should be approached like fine dining where communication and elite service is crucial. There are many other factors that patients are surveyed on, but most factors revolve around communication and attention to detail. Since your nurses interact with patients the most, it’s important to establish strategies to train your nurses on consistently improving HCAHPS scores.

Here are some of the strategies CNO’s shared on how they improved HCAHPS scores at their facilities:


  • Master each HCAHPS tactic. Give your staff two tactics to focus on to improve for two quarters straight. Once they master those tactics, have them focus on improving another two tactics for two quarters. Gradually have your staff master each tactic to improve overall scores.
  • Don’t focus on the numbers. When addressing expected levels for patient care with your staff, don’t focus on the numbers from the HCAHPS scores. Instead, have your nurses focus on the patient experience.
    If your nurses are focused on taking care of the patient and providing excellent service, they won’t get distracted by the specifics of the HCAHPS scoring. This way your nurses aim high instead of aiming for a number.
  • Let your staff come up with the plan. Instead of leadership enforcing a plan to improve HCAHPS scores, let your staff come up with a plan of action. Your staff is more likely to become passionate about the change because they’re now a part of it.
  • Involve the patient in the bedside shift report. Once the nurse has communicated with the patient about their care, have the nurses ask the patient to give the report back to them. This way the nurse can see the patient’s perception of the level of care they’re providing. The patient also feels more responsible and involved in their care when they are discharged, which will reduce readmissions.
  • Find an interesting fact about the patient. Ask your nurse to tell you a personal detail about the patient that’s not obvious from the patient’s charts. This is a way for your nurse to try to connect with the patient beyond the task-oriented relationship. Provider and patient relationships are becoming increasingly more important to an organization’s brand.
  • Establish peer-to-peer evaluation. To improve patient engagement among your staff, establish peer to peer evaluations so that nurses can get feedback from their colleagues. This way every nurse is practicing patient engagement and they all know what is expected of them.

Each of these suggestions come from CNOs who claim they’ve seen improvement in scores from these strategies. Improvement in scores will increase the chances of being rewarded with reimbursements and will improve the overall value-based care system that your hospital provides.

Shari Dingle (Sandifer) Costantini, RN, MBA, founder and CEO of Avant Healthcare Professionals, is a renowned expert in the healthcare industry with 29 years of experience in strategic leadership, nursing and international nurse staffing. Avant is a premier staffing specialist for internationally educated registered nurses, physical therapists and occupational therapists.


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