This blog post was written by our guest bloggers from the RMS Healthcare Transformation Team.
Measuring patient experience is a growing trend in healthcare and a pivotal element in providing quality patient care. Although it has been federally mandated for hospitals and home health agencies for a number of years, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) most recently added required survey requirements for in-patient dialysis centers and are considering new vehicles for hospital outpatient surgery departments and ambulatory surgical centers. CMS will also require administration from certified vendors of a standardized, patient experience of care survey for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Many experts also believe that mandated surveys for clinician groups are coming…sooner rather than later. So regardless of the healthcare system of which you are a part, measuring and evaluating your organization’s patient experience is crucial to uncovering areas requiring attention, improving quality of care and managing risk. Your goal should be to get the most value from your patient experience findings.
In this second of a two-part blog series, we will discuss how these goals can be achieved with positive outcomes for both the patients and the organizational and operational teams. In a recent letter to CMS, the American Hospital Association (AHA) expressed concern about the cost of outsourcing the administration of measuring patient experience. To review the letter, click here: http://www.aha.org/advocacy-issues/letter/2013/130326-cl-cms-4171-nc.pdf
Healthcare organizations embarking on patient experience measurement, either voluntarily or due to governmental mandates (e.g. CMS) should consider the finite internal resources in staff time, expertise and equipment that would be required to administer the survey, compile, analyze and benchmark results to deliver the quality findings provided by certified CMS vendors. In addition, healthcare consulting firms conducting the surveys can assist the organization in engaging all staff in assessing and improving the patient experience. Ultimately, this yields more satisfied patients and an improved return on investment.
Certified CMS vendors have the process, staffing and equipment in place to survey patients using a variety of modalities. In addition, third-party data collection and analysis leads to more independent, unbiased results while giving healthcare organizations sufficient data to compare within and across similar entities while offering the opportunity to assess variations and to monitor trends. This knowledge allows the organization the opportunity to celebrate what has been done well and to identify areas and opportunities for improvement.
Critical to measuring the overall patient experience is ensuring staff is proactively engaged in all aspects of administering quality driven patient care. Staff engagement can yield more positive findings with the outcomes of the survey results. Staff engagement in the process is the key to having more satisfied patients. According to an article published in 2012 by The Forum Business Results Through People, hospital departments that have a higher level of employee engagement provide better engagement resulting in higher quality patient care with positive outcomes. The article goes on to provide additional information regarding the impact of higher employee engagement and impact on patient care as well as the impact on increasing overall employee retention, involvement and effort.
Staff engagement should begin with training your staff to reveal the possibility of the patient receiving a request to complete a survey. Organizations should train their staff to communicate the mission of providing the highest level of quality care and asking at several stages of the visit if the patient’s needs are being met. Survey findings should be used to recognize and reward staff members that go beyond expectations in working with a patient. When opportunities for improvement are identified, the results can be used as a basis to focus staff training to improve service. Sharing the results with your staff, celebrating success and retraining staff where opportunities for improvement are seen helps morale, productivity, staff retention, as well as improve patient care. This would result in lower staff turnover, saving the practice the costs of hiring, training and lost productivity. The quality reports supplied by an independent third-party vendor should provide recommendations for these next steps, which seek to provide continued improvement in the patient experience.
RMS Healthcare is a premier healthcare consulting firm, assisting healthcare organizations to improve patient care and quality outcomes, as well as being a certified CAHPS® vendor. Whether you are looking for a CAHPS® survey vendor to administer or manage your patient satisfaction survey process and reports or are seeking further information about improving patient care, RMS Healthcare provides a full complement of healthcare consulting and management services. For more information, contact Susan Maxsween, Director of Healthcare and Practice Transformation (315) 635-9802 or by emailing her at SusanM@RMSresults.com. For other RMS Healthcare blog posts, click here.