Get On Board the Patient Experience Train
If you're NOT on board that 'patient experience train', it’s time to call your nearest survey vendor.
Since 2002, CMS has mandated that hospitals measure and report inpatient survey scores through the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or HCAHPS. Such reporting is likely the future for clinics and doctors’ offices, too—starting as early as 2014.
The system was designed to serve patients and providers alike – allowing healthcare organizations to assess patients’ perceptions of care and allowing consumers to evaluate a provider’s patient-centeredness of care.
The patient experience movement has gained momentum with the Affordable Care Act and a push to tie payments increasingly to value and quality of care. Hospitals with less-than-stellar survey scores forfeit 1 percent of their Medicare payments, a number that doubles by 2017—to the tune of $1 billion.
In addition to survey results being tied to reimbursement, surveys deliver information that physicians can use to reduce wait times, improve patient communication, enhance the appearance of a practice and manage the courtesy and friendliness of staff. Survey results also provide an opportunity to decrease risk of malpractice and improve market share, patient loyalty and referrals.
Consider these tips to impact the patient experience:
Prioritize convenience. Patients generally
prefer quick and efficient care. Improve the patient experience by offering extended
hours, email communications with patients, online medical consultations, online
appointment scheduling, wellness brochures, and a website with hours, doctor
biographies and contact information.
Thank the community for choosing you. Promote your achievements on banners and
table tents throughout your facility, and on billboards, movie theater ads or radio
spots to spread the word outside your doors. Don’t just toot your own horn,
though. Messaging should focus on how quality, safety and the overall
experience of patients and families are your chief concerns.
If your survey results aren't as high as you'd like, communicate your
improvement efforts to patients and staff, especially as you roll out new
processes and programs. When you use your survey results to help drive
targeted, operational performance improvement – you’ll be making good on your
promise. And that improves patient safety and loyalty.
If you have a low survey response rate, train patient navigators, discharge
nurses and other staff to educate patients about the importance of completing
the surveys. Hang educational posters and have staff wear buttons to let
your patients know that you're listening. And don't be afraid to push back on
your survey vendor for additional resources.
Tana Phelps is a marketing specialist at Cassling, a Midwest healthcare company that provides local imaging equipment sales and service, and marketing and professional services.