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Ghent Healthcare Newsletter
Jan 20, 2017
HCAHPS are one of the dominant factors in hospital ratings, and over the years they have even become tied to financial reimbursements to hospitals. As of 2017, Health and Human Services (HHS) is now withholding 2 percent of all Medicare reimbursements for hospitals. The department will be redistributing these funds back to hospitals based on their ratings from satisfaction surveys such as HCAHPS.
But are HCAHPS the most reliable way to gauge the effectiveness and quality of a hospital? Many healthcare providers and experts say no, which has led to the debate of revamping HCAHPS in the future.
One of the largest problems with HCAHPS is the ambiguous questions they ask often do not adequately separate the issues of patient satisfaction and the level of care received. At their core, hospitals are both care centers and businesses. They often act as both a hospital and a hotel, and patients are both people in need of care as well as paying customers.
While patient satisfaction is important, their health should always come first and foremost. But HCAHPS often focus on issues that relate more to their general satisfaction and not patient health. This problem manifests itself in many of the questions asked on HCAHPS, including:
HCAHPS often focus on issues that relate more to their general satisfaction and not patient health. While patient satisfaction is important, their health should always come first and foremost. This problem manifests itself in many of the questions asked on HCAHPS, including:
Call button response time: How long it takes nurses to respond is a fair measurement, but everyone perceives time differently. Discomfort due to medication or treatment, mixed with the stress of being in the hospital can lead to impatience or frustration, even if the nurses are responding in a timely manner.
Pain/comfort-related questions: if the pain or discomfort is due to poor hospital conditions or care, these issues certainly warrant attention, but pain and discomfort are often necessary to treatment, and some procedures are often invasive or painful. This has led to the suggestion that pain questions be omitted from HCAHPS.
Level of alarm: most complaints should be registered when considering hospitals ratings, but not all complaints should be treated equally. HCAHPS need to be reviewed individually, not aggregated into metadata and averaged. Some extreme cases include patients in New Jersey giving a hospital a poor review for not having enough Splenda in stock.
The end result of these issues is that higher HCAHPS do not always indicate better care, and things such as reimbursements cannot always be tied to their results.
There may not be a restructuring of HCAHPS in the future, so it is incumbent upon care teams and hospital administrators to ensure that they are not only giving quality treatment, but taking steps to keep patient satisfaction as high as possible.
One proven method of increasing HCAHPS scores is incorporating patient whiteboards into daily treatment plans. Whiteboards allow care teams to effectively communicate important information to patients, effectively keeping them involved in their treatments and care. Communication is often cited as a great determinant of patient satisfaction, and using whiteboards to help patients understand their treatment plan is an effective solution to a very common issue for hospitals.
To learn how easy it is to get a sample of our custom whiteboards, contact our team today.
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