This post was written by our guest blogger, Megan O’Donnell, Manager of RMS Healthcare.
This is an interesting article on the recent implications of the recently instituted Value-Based Purchasing program from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). But I think the author misleads the reader initially by making it sound like hospitals will be getting MORE money from the federal government if they have satisfied patients. The reality for hospitals across the country is that hospitals will be paid LESS for the care they provide patients unless they can show, along with other clinically based measures, that they are providing patients with satisfying experiences or making strides to improve the patients’ experience. As the author noted, hospitals run at very tight operating margins already, and any loss of revenue has the potential to severely impact a hospital’s ability to cover its operating costs.
I don’t think it matters what the motivating factor is for a hospital (or any business for that matter) to seek to improve the quality of care (service) they provide to their patients (customers). The end result is that patients will have a better experience while receiving the care they need – through better communications with nurses and doctors, improved responsiveness of hospital staff, better pain management and communication about medicines, improved cleanliness and quietness of hospital environment, and clearer discharge information for patients once they leave the hospital. All of these factors (used by CMS to determine the patient experience score), while not directly linked to quality in terms of clinical prognoses, can improve the patients’ experience, their outlook, their attitude towards recovery, and ultimately their outcome. So, even if it is the hospital’s bottom line that is driving change, any change that will produce a better outcome for the patient should be encouraged.
Hospitals looking to make changes in their patients’ experience should first look at what factors have the most impact on the patients’ perception of their experiences. Analysis of Hospital CAHPS® scores, focus groups with patients, and other research can help to pinpoint the hospitals efforts towards making the greatest impact on the patients’ experience while at the hospital. This will allow hospitals to implement changes in staff culture as needed, as well as employ the best technologies and innovations available to meet their needs. New and exciting technologies available to hospitals will help them along the road of continuous improvements in quality of care and patient experience.
If you are interested in working with a healthcare consultant to improve your HCAHPS® scores, contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at SandyB@RMSresults.com or call her at (315) 635-9802.