Patient Experience

HCAHPS scores Closely Tied to Readmission Rates

Posted on March 28, 2013. Filed under: Admission & Discharge, Communication, HCAHPS, Patient Experience |

ImageWith Medicare payment penalties for excess readmissions now in effect, reducing readmissions has become a top priority for hospitals and other stakeholders. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publicly reports risk-adjusted readmission rates for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. The data shows significant variation in performance across hospitals, indicating that some hospitals are more successful than others at addressing the causes of readmissions. A recent study by Press Ganey suggests that performance on readmission metrics is associated with performance on patient experience of care measures.

Press Ganey analyzed hospitals’ readmission penalty data in the context of their scores for CMS’ Hospital Inpatient Value-based Purchasing program (VBP) to determine if there was a relationship in performance on the two pay-for-performance programs. The VBP program establishes scores for both the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey results and process of care measures. The study found a demonstrated negative association between hospitals’ HCAHPS VBP scores and readmission penalties; as hospital performance on HCAHPS increased, readmission penalties decreased. Very low HCAHPS performance (scores of 0–19 was associated with much-higher-than-average readmission penalties, and very high HCAHPS performance (80–100) was associated with much-lower-than-average readmission penalties.

These findings support previous research on the link between patient experience and clinical quality found that higher overall patient satisfaction and satisfaction with discharge planning were associated with lower 30-day risk-standardized readmission rates. This current study seems to suggest, HCAHPS scores, not clinical measures, were more closely linked to readmission rates.

To effectively combat patient readmissions, hospitals can benefit from a foundational strategy that starts first and foremost with the patient – and efforts that are aimed at improving HCAHPS scores are an excellent initial step. The majority of the HCAHPS survey questions address communications between caregivers and patients. Effective communications is fundamental to ensuring that patients become engaged in their care and, consequently, better equipped to follow discharge instructions and self-monitor after leaving the acute care setting.

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Interactive Patient Care: The Latest in Patient Engagement

Posted on March 15, 2013. Filed under: Communication, Patient Experience |

ImageAn increasing number of hospital executives and healthcare organizations are discovering that patient and family engagement is the key to the transformation of the healthcare delivery system. The Healthcare Advisory Board stated that patient engagement is one of the three pillars for healthcare transformation in its recent “Playbook for Accountable Care.” In 2008 NQF declared patient and family engagement as “one of the five National Health Priorities that will guide and shape healthcare transformation.” As a result, regulations and standards have been developed to include patient engagement as a core element.

There is a growing amount of data demonstrating that when patients become active participants in their care, they are more inclined and motivated to assume responsibility for managing their own health. Thus, the results are better outcomes for the patient, and lower costs and better performance for the hospital.

Over the past ten years, the healthcare industry has invested countless time and resources finding ways to deliver more patient-centered care.  Many different strategies have been tried and tested. Some strategies have proven successful, while others have not. Many of those efforts were focused on strategies around the patient. Many believe that In order to realize the benefit of patient engagement, healthcare facilities will have to change the way they deliver care: moving from a model where care is delivered to and around the patient to one in which the care is delivered with the patient.

There is an emerging care delivery model known as Interactive Patient Care (IPC). IPC is based on the premise that a more engaged patient is a satisfied patient with better outcomes. There is now ample evidence-based outcomes data associated with this innovative care delivery model that demonstrates patient engagement through IPC is a proven strategy for performance improvement.

 

For more information, or to take your healthcare organization to the next level of patient engagement, contact us,

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Healthcare 101: How HCAHPS Works

Posted on March 1, 2013. Filed under: Government and Healthcare, HCAHPS, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

How HCAHPS Works 

 

ImageHCAHPS is part of Medicare’s value-based purchasing program, created as an effort to initiate reimbursement models that pay for a high quality of care rather than a high quantity of care. HCAHPS is a survey that measures patient satisfaction with the entire hospital experience.

Recently discharged patients are asked to answer 27 questions that are used to measure their perception of the quality of care they received in the hospital.

The HCAHPS survey includes seven key areas: responsiveness of hospital staff, nursing communication skills, physician communication skills, pain management, quietness and cleanliness, explanations about medications and discharge instructions. The survey is designed to allow objective and meaningful comparisons between hospitals in areas that are important to consumers. Results are published online and can be viewed by the public.

The data is used to determine reimbursement. Hospitals can gain or lose up to two percent of their Medicare reimbursement fees, depending on how well they score. A hospital that chooses not to participate in HCAHPS is automatically docked two percent.

HCAHPS survey data has been collected and tallied since October 2012. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began implementing value-based incentive payments for hospitals this year.

 

To learn more about HCAHPS and how Introcomm can help you raise your scores and lower the risk of reimbursement penalties, contact us

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Improve Patient Experience to Reduce Readmissions

Posted on February 4, 2013. Filed under: Communication, HCAHPS, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple, Readmission |

Christy Whipple

According to a research study released by Press Ganey Associates, Inc., hospitals that perform better on patient experience measures also have lower patient readmission rates.

blurry hallway

Reducing Readmissions: A Top Priority

With Medicare payment penalties for readmissions now in effect, reducing readmissions has become a top priority for hospitals and other stakeholders. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publicly reports risk-adjusted readmission rates for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. A new study by Press Ganey suggests that performance on readmission metrics is associated with performance on patient experience.

HCAHPS Performance Related to Readmission Rates

Sources suggest that many hospitals struggle to identify and address the factors that influence readmissions. However, the Press Ganey study has revealed a strong connection between lower rates of excess readmissions for certain conditions and higher performance on Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) value-based purchasing metrics.

Start with a Focus on the Patient

Nell Buhlman, Press Ganey’s VP of Product Strategy states, “”Readmissions and HCAHPS are multifaceted… To effectively combat patient readmissions, hospitals can benefit from a foundational strategy that starts first and foremost with the patient – and efforts that are aimed at improving HCAHPS scores are an excellent initial step.”

When HCAHPS Increase, Readmissions Decrease

The Press Ganey study found that as hospital performance on HCAHPS increases, readmission penalties decrease: Very low HCAHPS performance (scores of 0-20) was associated with much-higher-than-average readmission penalties, and very high HCAHPS performance (80-100) was associated with much-lower-than-average readmission penalties.

Engage Patients in Their Care

According to a related article written by David Harlow JD MPH, effective communications “is fundamental to ensuring that patients become engaged in their care and, consequently, better equipped to follow discharge instructions and self-monitor after leaving the acute care setting.”

Communication Reduces Readmissions

Harlow also suggests that hospitals adopt a sustainable discharge strategy that identifies and addresses “patient-specific factors that could lead to readmission, strategic patient education, developing a patient-focused after-care plan and ensuring a smooth transition to a post-acute setting.” In summary, he states that “a patient-centered discharge planning process, built on clear communications with the patient, is likely to reduce readmissions.”

 

 

Are you ready to improve your patient perception 
experience and reduce your readmission rates with improved communication? Introcomm provides custom communications solutions beginning with the admissions and discharge processes. Find out how we can help you improve communication by improving systems you already have in place (meaning little to no additional out of pocket expense). 

Contact us today to schedule our complimentary educational webinar.
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Effective Communication is an Integral Part of Healing Process

Posted on January 31, 2013. Filed under: Communication, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

ImageSuccessful medical encounters require effective communication between the patient and the physician. “Success” implies that the patient and physician have developed a partnership and the patient has been fully educated in the nature of his or her condition and the different methods to address the problem. This allows the patient to be actively involved in the decision-making process and establishes agreed upon expectations and goals.

Ineffective Communication Can Cause Adverse Drug Effects

According to a study done by Dr. Neda Ratanawongsa, an assistant professor in the department of medicine at University of California, San Francisco finds that ineffective communication is a major reason patients don’t properly take medication as prescribed. Communication matters. Thirty percent of people in the study were not necessarily taking their medications the way their doctors thought they were,” said Ratanawongsa in a university news release.

Patients Who Trust Their Doctors Take Better Care of Themselves

“Rates for non-adherence were 4 to 6 percent lower for patients who felt their doctors listened to them, involved them in decisions and gained their trust. By supporting doctors in developing meaningful relationships with their patients, we could help patients take better care of themselves,” she added. The study authors reached their conclusions after giving questionnaires to more than 9,000 patients who took drugs to lower their blood sugar, blood pressure or cholesterol. They completed items on how they communicated with their doctors, and the researchers checked their prescription records to see if they were properly taking their medications.

Andrew Karter, a senior research scientist with the Kaiser Permanente research division who assisted with the study, pointed out what was unique about the findings. “We found that medication adherence is better if the physician has established a trusting relationship with the patient and prioritizes the quality of communication, even if that communication is not specifically focused on medication adherence,” he said in the news release.

Quality of the Encounter is Most Important

Many models have been developed to assist healthcare providers in developing approaches to improve their ability to communicate with their patients. These models focus on improvement in the quality of the encounter and do not necessarily require any significant increased investment in the length of the encounter. These approaches have been demonstrated to improve patient satisfaction and also allow the provider to demonstrate empathy, concern and humanism.

Healthcare Providers Should Cultivate Communication Skills to Build Trust

Communication skills allow the healthcare provider to build trust, promote healing, and ultimately improve outcomes. Interestingly, not only do successful encounters improve patient outcomes they have also been shown to improve professional satisfaction. These skills lead to professional respect among the physician’s peers and result in patients seeking care from these providers. Finally, interviews with patients who have filed malpractice suits against their physicians often site poor communication and lack of empathy as a factor in pursuing legal action.

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Patient Satisfaction Can Be EASY…?

Posted on January 24, 2013. Filed under: Communication, HCAHPS, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

Christy Whipple
“You call them small things, but I call them easy things. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be fixed…” 

Patient satisfaction is based on what? Patient perception.

Clinton Memorial Hospital CEO Mark Dooley said conversations with patients revealed when they are dissatisfied, it is typically not with clinical quality. Their discontent is with response time to answering a call light, limited communication from the nursing staff, lack of personal connection with the hospital staff. All of these add up to cause a patient to perceive that he is not valued.

Small Things = Easy Improvements

Dooley claims that this perception is not only in hospitals’ control, but one of the easier things to fix. “You call them small things, but I call them easy things. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be fixed,” Dooley said. “I know there’s some image rebuilding we need to do. We have to take care of those needs, do the right things, treat patients the right way.”

Communication Improves Perception

Patient satisfaction and patient centered care go beyond patient needs and incorporate what patients perceive as quality of care. Effective and fluid communication between patients, patient families, and nursing staff, as well as staff efficiency and accessibility, play key roles in determining how patients view their stay at your hospital, and whether they will recommend your facility to their friends and loved ones. Poor communication or miscommunication, as well as lack of staff attention are highly detrimental to patients’ perception of quality of care.

Stay Focused

On the surface, communication appears to be a simple concept within health care. Patients talk to doctors, nurses, and staff members. Doctors explain treatment options to patients. However, obstacles often get in the way of understandable, quality communication. A lack of quality communication limits the quality of service that can be provided to the patient. Some of these issues are rooted within healthcare system design, while others are the result of misplaced focus. Although quality care is important, in some case the perception of care is equally important. According to a study performed in Jackson, Mississippi, the level of patient satisfaction, perceived quality and communication directly correlated with symptom improvement and healing.

Cornerstone of the Healthcare Relationship

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. Improved communication will improve patents perception, satisfaction and quite possibly the healing process. Communication is an inexpensive and easy measure. The key is to remember the importance of communication and make it a high priority. Every hospital can benefit immensely by improved communication.

Are you ready to improve your patient perception with improved communication? Introcomm provides custom communications solutions beginning with the admissions and discharge processes. Find out how we can help you improve communication by improving systems you already have in place (meaning little to no additional out of pocket expense).

Introcomm can certainly help you improve communication, but we can also assist your hospital with HCAHPS, patient experience, reduced readmission rates and more.  Contact us today to schedule our complimentary educational webinar.

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In Healthcare, Patient Experience Outweighs Price

Posted on January 23, 2013. Filed under: Communication, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

ImageHealthcare is one of the ONLY industries where experience consistently trumps price. In fact, studies show that customer service (patient experience) is 2½ times more important to the healthcare consumer than in any other industry. This reality may be an eye-opener for some doctors, administrators and medical marketing executives:

Unlike every other industry studied, “price” is not the top consideration. In healthcare, patient experience is the primary driver in the purchase decision. For healthcare consumers, personal experience is the number one reason for choosing a doctor or hospital.

In a recent report by the Health Research Institute of PwC US, both healthcare consumer expectation and the healthcare delivery system are changing. According to the report, these changes in expectation are based on, “inspiration from other industries, competition, health reform, consumer demands and/or the bottom line.”

The PwC report (based on a survey of 6,000 consumers) observes that “agile [healthcare] companies are changing the way they get to know their customers, moving beyond basic transactions and embracing their patients and members as consumers and customers.

“In many respects consumer expectations in healthcare track closely with other industries. Convenience and speed are high on the list… Like the banking and travel industries before them, healthcare companies are recognizing that customer retention comes with repeatable, memorable experiences that match individuals’ wants and needs.”

What is the basis for these new demands? Most professionals believe that the Internet opened the information and communications floodgates, and consumers (patients) have become increasingly aware and empowered in their healthcare decisions.

Others believe that responsibility lies in the shift among healthcare consumers of more conservative spending decisions, as well as many families paying a larger share of costs in health expenses and insurance. The “consumerism” mindset is trending in the healthcare sector, and now more closely parallels the long-established service expectations that are typical in the retail world.

The patient-focus in healthcare—and managing the customer experience—is likely to continue or grow. As the various dynamics of healthcare reform continue to phase-in to the delivery system, over 20 million individual “shoppers” will enter the marketplace in the next five to six years.

According to the report, people are, “acting more like consumers and less like patients.” Adopting a stronger patient-centric approach will provide numerous benefits for the provider, the hospital or healthcare facility, and especially for the individual patient. A positive patient experience clearly improves patient compliance, adherence, quality of care, and ultimately leads to better outcomes.

Consistently delivering a positive patient experience and exceptional customer satisfaction is increasingly tied to revenue. Indirectly, satisfaction and loyalty also inspire patient and professional referrals.

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Nurse Communication and Patient Experience

Posted on January 15, 2013. Filed under: Communication, Newsletter Archive, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

Christy Whipple

“..overall patient satisfaction is linked with quality nursing care, which, in turn, depends on nurse satisfaction…” 

Nurse with elderly patient

It has long been believed that nurses are the backbone of any health care institution and the ‘face’ of the daily care that patients receive. So it’s no surprise that the HCAHPS survey section on nurses’ communication has been found to have the greatest impact on overall patient satisfaction and likelihood to recommend the hospital to family and friends. Nurse communication is an integral part of patient experience and satisfaction.

Nurse Communication Directly Relates to Patient Satisfaction

Recently, popular journal, Quality Management in Health Care, released an article outlining a study regarding the success of nurse communication. The objective was to determine the extent of patient satisfaction with care provided at the hospital at all levels and to correlate patients’ satisfaction with nursing care, in particular, with their overall satisfaction. The study involved a random sample of 420 inpatients in a 110 bed hospital. They found that the overall patient satisfaction with the quality of care provided at the hospital was found to be quite high (Excellent, 74.7%; Very good, 23.7%). Individually, nursing care received the maximum patient satisfaction ratings (Excellent, 91.9%; Very good, 3.9%). A positive correlation was noted between patients’ perception of nursing care and their overall satisfaction with the health care provided at the hospital. They concluded that overall patient satisfaction is linked with quality nursing care, which, in turn, depends on nurse satisfaction, which adds to their work effectiveness and motivates them to provide quality patient care.

HCAHPS Illustrate Importance of Nurse Communication

The impact of nursing care on patient satisfaction and patient outcomes has long been established but hadn’t been linked to financial incentives – until now, with the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems initiative. (HCAHPS) According to one nursing educator at American Sentinel University, HCAHPS is poised to have a profound impact on health care and offers a positive and unexpected opportunity to advance the entire nursing profession. With HCAHPS, there is now have a science focused around patient-centered care and a way to measure care that was not in place before. When a nurse is aware of the patient’s perception of the care they are receiving, the nurse can now take measures to correct any negative habits and use the information as a learning tool to increase quality of patient care.

Nurses may Benefit from HCAHPS

Although standardized surveys often carry negative connotations, nurses can view the HCAHPS initiative as a positive and unexpected opportunity to advance nursing interests. HCAHPS is the opportunity for which nurses to demonstrate that what they do does make a difference in health care. Studies have also shown that patient satisfaction is higher when nurses have a better work environment, greater collaboration with physicians and more favorable staffing ratios. Hospitals haven’t always taken note of this data, but now they may have to – and nurses are poised to benefit when they do.

Introcomm provides custom communications solutions for the admissions and discharge processes. To learn more about how Introcomm can assist your hospital with HCAHPS, patient experience, and improved communication (with little to no additional out of pocket expense), please contact us today to schedule our complimentary educational webinar.

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Patient Experience Goes Beyond Medical Care

Posted on January 10, 2013. Filed under: Communication, HCAHPS, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

Christy Whipple

“Hospitals will have to venture beyond the traditional realm of merely providing world-class medical care.” 

Although 92% of hospital leaders claim to rate patient experience among their top three priorities, it seems no one quite knows what to do or how to improve it. Patients are less forgiving of poor service than they once were, and their expectations are continually rising because of the continually improving customer service offered by other kinds of service providers. A survey done by HealthLeaders found that 41% of patients indicated they would be willing to switch hospitals for a better patient experience.

Good Intentions
The majority of healthcare systems’ mission statements reflect that improving the health of patients is the primary mission. This being the case, then understanding and improving the patient experience must be an important focus. And it would seem that healthcare leaders would be experts at improving the patient experience. However, often this is not the case.

Beyond Medical Care
Hospitals will have to venture beyond the traditional realm of merely providing world-class medical care. They must approach patients as customers, and design the end-to-end patient experience accordingly. This willmove the focus of a hospital’s capabilities from purely clinical competencies to those that also cover customer management.

Customized Communication
The US Medical Center successfully implemented several innovations that have improved the customer experience, especially in terms of information consistency, access, communications and personalized service.The medical center found thatbased on age groups, patients have different needs and preferences, as well as different attitudes and expectations, when it came to their overall patient experience. The younger patients, for example, preferred to pull information when, where and how they wanted it. Older patients, on the other hand, were more interested in having information pushed to them and readily available. Older patients also preferred printed media vs. digital.

Benefits of Satisfied Patients
More satisfied patients bring numerous benefits for hospitals. Satisfied customers often cost less to serve. They consume resources more efficiently.They are more likely to recommend the hospital to friends. They are more likely to give the hospital high ratings, resulting in higher reimbursement rates.

In a healthcare setting, there is an added benefit to satisfied customers: they are more likely to develop good health habits, such as following wellness regimens. They are more tuned into messaging from healthcare providers and, therefore, more likely to make follow-up appointments, take prescribed drugs and keep up with recommended screenings. In other words, they work with their healthcare providers to prevent illness rather than just seek treatment after illness occurs. This preventive approach can dramatically reduce the costs associated with medical care.

More than Patient Satisfaction
The patient experience is more than just patient satisfaction. It incorporates all aspects of the patient’s interaction with the healthcare system. The patient experience includes patient satisfaction, patient engagement, and the quality of the care. To improve the patient experience, leadership needs to focus and truly make the patient experience a priority.

Introcomm provides custom communications solutions for the admissions and discharge processes. To learn more about how Introcomm can assist your hospital with HCAHPS, patient experience, and improved communations (with little to no additional out of pocket expense), please contact us today to schedule our complimentary educational webinar.

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Creating Your Patient Experience Program: Where to Begin

Posted on December 27, 2012. Filed under: Communication, HCAHPS, Patient Experience, Post By Christy Whipple |

Christy Whipple

“…Weave The Patient Experience into the very fabric of your organization’s culture.”

building-a-planThere are plenty of ways to make patient experience more than just another initiative, according to a recent article in HealthLeaders Media. “..To weave it into the very fabric of your organization’s culture, and ultimately to reap the rewards of a healthier bottom line and a reputation that people will talk about with anyone who will listen.”

Does Your Staff “Get It?”
The HealthLeaders article further states that about 95% of the hospitals are current with the latest buzzwords. When asked about ‘patient experience,’ they’ve got it. ‘Service excellence?’ They’ve got it. But Dr. Gnida asks, “Do they really? When we talk to managers who are writing action plans   or directors who are frustrated that they can’t move their scores or grow   their market, it turns out that they’re not really doing service excellence work, which is creating remarkable experiences. Usually they’re doing service   recovery work instead. I don’t want to denigrate service recovery, but it’s a whole other strategy-it’s not patient experience.”

Where Should You Begin?
How will you stay engaged and aligned? How will you know whether the activities are improving the patient experience? Start with a performance analysis accounting for the HCAHPS metrics. This can help an organization understand the current performance along each of these measurements. Deficiencies in any of these areas provide insight on areas to focus improvement efforts. These measures also provide a baseline and a framework for ongoing assessment of the organization’s progress.

Developing a Plan
An execution plan should mimic a road map. It should include the high level work plan, goals, projected timeline, estimated resources and additional support areas required to implement the road map. Throughout implementation and thereafter, the organization can return to the original analysis metrics to assess its performance. This analysis will provide ongoing guidance for prioritizing the activities that may have a significant impact on the Patient’s Experience.

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