Background: RMS partnered with a local hospital to conduct qualitative focus group research among recently discharged patients to obtain feedback and perceptions around their recent hospital experience. In particular, the research focused on the thought process and behaviors linking the types of individual attributes reported in the HCAHPS® survey to the patient’s overall satisfaction, quality of experience and likelihood to recommend the hospital. The hospital wanted to obtain feedback that could be used to improve patient satisfaction consistent with the stated goals of HCAHPS® administration.

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Methodology: RMS analyzed discharge data to ensure the breakout of the groups were each representative by age, residing town and specific hospital usographics. Each of the four groups lasted two hours and the sessions were held on consecutive evenings in the hospital community room. RMS consulted with the client to create a detailed moderator’s guide and participation packet to facilitate the discussions. RMS provided simulcast viewing to key hospital staff and provided written transcripts of each of the four sessions. A main focus of the focus groups was to re-create the HCAHPS® survey experience and explore the decision-making mind frame when scoring each factor in the satisfaction survey instrument.

 Findings & Results: A few bullet points of some initial findings from the research:

  • A general theme of a lack of patient acknowledgement emerged throughout all the focus groups. RMS worked with the client to recommend the AIDET approach to health care (defined by StuderGroup) to outline a framework for communications: A-acknowledge, I-introduce, D-duration, E-explain and T-thank. These components should define every staff-patient interaction.
  • RMS identified the following three key drivers to overall satisfaction: staff needs to better explain the care they are providing, better answer patient questions and do a better job of keeping patients informed of their care.
  • National statistics from the CAHPS® Clinician & Group Survey state that “doctor communication – how well doctors communicate with patients” is the most highly correlated factor to satisfaction with doctors (a .74 coefficient). Access to care (.07) and office staff (.05) incur significantly lower coefficients. This score emphasizes the importance of focusing improvement on communication, which was supported by the focus group results. RMS worked with the client to create a priority matrix to institute areas of priority for action items.

Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) is a CAPHS® survey vendor. We’ll work with you and your hospital team to consult with you on the data and determine areas of improvement to raise your HCAHPS® scores. If you are interested in learning more about improving HCAHPS® scores at hospitals contact our Business Development Director, Sandy Baker, at or by calling 315-635-9802.