Patient Experience: Patient Perception vs Reality

Posted on November 20, 2012. Filed under: Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

Only 55% indicated that they received excellent care, despite the fact that 88% received care considered in line with the best treatment guidelines.

Christy Whipple

ImagePatients’ perceived quality of care often varies greatly from the actual quality of care (as defined by adherence to guidelines), according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. Only 55% of women indicated that they received excellent care, despite the fact that 88% of the women surveyed received care that is considered in line with the best treatment guidelines. These findings could have huge implications for hospitals as CMS utilizes HCAHPS scores to base their reimbursement, in part, on performance and quality metrics. As described by the CMS, the HCAHPS survey is “the first national, standardized, publicly reported survey of patients’ perspectives of hospital care.”


Perception Based on Interactions

Communication and interactions with medical personnel made a difference in the perception of quality among the woman surveyed. Women who reported having good communication with their physician, a clear understanding of which staff member to turn to with questions, and generally excellent treatment from the medical staff were more likely to rate their overall quality of care as excellent.

Excellent Clinical Outcomes, Poor Perception  

Effective within the last few weeks, Medicare now penalizes a hospital based on HCAHPS scores, making the success and failures of your hospital corporation heavily rely on the patients’ perception of the care hospitals provide. Your hospital and staff are clinically excellent, your outcomes good, yet your patients may perceive you as too busy to care, detached or lacking in compassion.  How can you change this perception?

Communication: The Key to Improvement

Healthcare is a relationship and communication is the cornerstone of every successful relationship. Encourage staff to communicate one-to-one with patient and family members. All staff should ask patients and families, “Is there anything else I can do for you?” before leaving a patient.  Whiteboards, rounding, shift change, proactive expectation management and discharge processes are examples of inclusive patient and family communication that raise scores.

Discharge Communication

Pamela Paxton, an analyst for iVantage Healthcare suggests a strong focus on the discharge process. “Make sure that your discharge process includes a caring and compassionate discussion of post-hospital needs… Ask and make note of patients’ questions.” Thorough instructions for post-discharge care are a necessity for patients.


Communication translates to Trust

Although this study examined only a sample of patients, its findings can be applicable at most institutions. The researchers conclude that healthcare organizations should improve the perceived quality of care by establishing trust between patients and healthcare staff.  Clear and detailed communication is the key factor in improving patient perceptions.

Introcomm provides custom communications solutions for the admissions and discharge processes. To learn more about HCAHPS, patient experience and improving your patients’ perception of quality care (with little to no additional out of pocket expense), please contact us today to schedule our complimentary educational webinar.


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