HCAHPS: 5 Ways Hospitals Can Improve Patient Satisfaction
The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems is a standardized database that tracks patient satisfaction. While it’s been in place for several years, under the Affordable Care Act, HCAHPS data now figures into the calculation to determine the payments health services organizations receive.
“HCAHPS has changed the game for health care providers by measuring results attained against a basic set of standards,” says Alan Guinn, Managing Director and CEO of The Guinn Consultancy Group. “It injects the process of quality improvement into all aspects of medical care and facilities management.”
With all this at stake, it’s important for hospitals to ensure their patients are satisfied. But what can you do if you need to improve your facility’s patient satisfaction?
1. Educate Your Staff
It’s important all of the stakeholders understand the importance of client and patient services and satisfaction, Guinn says. “Include real-world anecdotal examples in the training so that there can be no lack of cognizance in understanding the organization’s commitment to success.”
Marshall Maglothin of Blue Oak Consulting also recommends sharing current HCAHPS scores throughout your organization. He suggests sharing the information with employees as part of new-employee orientations and annual online training.
2. Examine Your Standards
“Develop standards within the organization that mandate performance improvement and client/patient satisfaction,” Guinn says. “Stress ongoing client/patient engagement at every level of the organization.”
Organizations should remember the focus of these efforts must be on the result, says Maglothin. “Measures such as ‘respect’ should be explored according to patients’, not caregivers,’ definitions. Focus on the primary audiences of providers, unit caregivers and housekeepers for education in empathic communication.”
Kristin Baird, owner and CEO of Baird Group, a consulting firm that specializes in improving patient experience, agrees. “Because they are viewing their services from an ‘inside-out’ perspective, they often miss key elements or actions that can have a dramatic impact on the patient experience.”
3. Consider the Neutral Observer
Baird’s company uses a care partner observer assessment, which can help provide different perspectives on patient/provider situations.
“This involves the use of an observer to document the patient encounter, incorporating both the patient’s and the observer’s observations,” she explains. “Through our work we find that patient perceptions can be significantly influenced through such seemingly ‘minor’ things or ‘simple’ misunderstandings.”
4. Designate a Point Person
Guinn recommends assigning someone within the organization to take the lead for anyone facing challenges, disappointment with client/patient services or unacceptable treatment.
“Charge this one person with immediate resolution power and privileges so that instant results can be sought,” he says.
5. Look to Other Industries for Inspiration
“Adopt techniques from the hospitality industry for surpassing the patient’s expectations,” Maglothin says. “Housekeepers should have business cards to leave in case the patient is in testing or asleep when their bathroom is cleaned; a number of smartphone apps are available that could automatically measure environmental noise in areas at night.”
How is your healthcare organization improving patient satisfaction? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear how you’re improving the patient experience!