Healthcare News & Insights

Study finds link between readmissions and patient satisfaction

One new study finds a direct link between two crucial metrics in determining a hospital’s quality of care: patient satisfaction scores and readmissions rates.

Press Ganey conducted a study comparing patients’ perception of their care to the rates of readmission penalties in hospitals. Researchers analyzed data from over 10,000 healthcare organizations, along with info from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

According to the study, hospitals with higher readmissions penalties were found to have lower scores on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), a patient survey conducted as part of CMS’ Value-Based Purchasing Program.

In fact, the higher HCAHPS scores hospitals earned, the lower their readmissions penalties were.

Hospitals with lower than average readmissions rates scored the highest on the HCAHPS survey. Those with higher than average readmissions rates had the worst scores.

For patients, perception is reality

The results of this analysis show that patients’ perception of care quality and a lower likelihood of readmission go hand in hand.

So what exactly can hospitals do to improve their performance regarding both measures?

The study suggests hospitals should take a multifaceted approach with a strong emphasis on improving communication between patients and hospital staff.

Much of the HCAHPS survey touches on how patients feel about the hospital’s communication efforts. If hospital staff members don’t properly relay the info patients need to manage their post-discharge care, it can put their recovery in jeopardy and land them back in the hospital.

Special attention should be placed upon communicating care instructions using clear language patients can understand. A patient who is left confused or ill-informed at discharge will likely have further complications.

Making the rounds

Another way hospitals can improve patient care and decrease readmissions: Place a focus on “purposeful” hourly rounds with nursing staff.

If nurses make rounds in the hospital with clear goals regarding what patients need to know about their care, it can have a positive effect on their recovery.

Nurses can start giving patients info about managing their condition on their own before they’re even discharged, which can make the transition much smoother.

Centered on the patient

Taking a fully patient-centered approach will also benefit hospitals’ performance with these metrics. Although it may be a bit more time-consuming, making the effort to customize the care experience for each patient will pay off in the long run.

Researchers in the Press Ganey study concluded that the most effective discharge strategy involves:

  • Identifying and addressing patient-specific factors that could lead to readmission
  • Providing strategic education to patients so they can take charge of their recovery, and
  • Developing a patient-centered post-discharge plan to help ease the transition.

To achieve these goals, hospitals have used several tactics successfully, including:

  • Assigning dedicated patient transition coaches
  • Scheduling follow-up care before discharge
  • Making post-discharge phone calls to check up on patients, and
  • Developing plans to prevent any non-medical barriers from affecting patient adherence to treatment.

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