Thanks in large part to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, healthcare providers have had to increasingly ensure that their patients leave feeling satisfied with their hospital stay. For better or for worse, these patient satisfaction survey scores are tied to Medicare payments to hospitals.
Recently, several healthcare industry leaders have attacked the survey’s star rating system as flawed. In response, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced plans to change certain aspects of the survey. Despite these proposed modifications, it appears that the HCAHPS and its payment scoring calculations are here to stay.
So as a hospital leader, how do you adapt? What do you tell your staff? Medical Solutions’ Clinical Director of Nursing Amber Barna, RN, shared her 5 strategies to increase your hospital’s HCAHPS score and patient satisfaction below.
- Practice hourly rounding: Patient satisfaction begins with quality patient care. So, Amber suggests management should introduce an hourly rounding practice for your front line staff. Hourly rounding allows nurses to be proactive in their jobs instead of reactive. It also increases patient satisfaction since they feel that the staff is more accessible.
- Implement leadership rounding: Leadership rounding helps management monitor the daily activity of your front line staff and allows your administrators to interact with the patients themselves. This type of rounding can help your management team spot problems early or discover ways to improve patient satisfaction. As an added bonus, leadership rounding also improves employee engagement.
- Train your staff: Your staff will need to understand the purpose of the HCAPHS survey. It was designed to publically measure patients’ perspective on their hospital experience. Amber believes management should reassure their staff that this survey was not intended to compare individual units or nurses, but the hospital overall. You should identify and communicate with your staff the survey’s strengths and weaknesses.
For example, the HCAPHS measures:
- how well nurses and doctors communicate with patients
- how responsive hospital staff are to patients’ needs
- whether key information is provided at discharge
- how well patients understood the type of care they would need after leaving the hospital.
The survey does not take into account:
- a patient’s understanding of the hospital bill
- the comfort of waiting areas
- the timeliness of appointments
- the quality of food
- Educate and prep patients on the survey: Likewise, Amber recommends hospital staff should educate their patients on the survey throughout the patient’s stay. If the patient understands why they are being asked about their hospital stay, they are more likely to respond. Likewise, if you remind them about it over the length of their stay, they will remember it better when asked about it days or weeks later. Your front line staff should focus on letting the patient know that both positive and negative feedback are welcome. Many times, people who are satisfied with their care do not feel the need to respond to the survey.
- Remember, it’s not personal: At the end of the day, Amber notes it’s important to remind your staff that you can’t make everyone happy. Some of your patients will have a negative experience for reasons that are out of your staff’s control. In spite of this challenge, your nurses should continually strive to provide quality care to all patients.
Increasing the quality of patient care and satisfaction while raising your HCAHPs scores aren’t mutually exclusive goals. In fact, they can go hand-in-hand. With these 5 strategies you can increase your HCAHPS score and improve patient care. Learn more about the HCAHPS survey here.
It’s no secret that the nurse shortage has rocked the healthcare industry in recent years. With a growing elderly population, high levels of retiring nurses, and a shortage of recent graduate nurses, many hospital staff managers are left scratching their heads. Although your hospital can’t change some of the factors that led to this shortage, you do still have the power to recruit quality staff and maintain superior patient care. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. Here’s are the top 3 nurse recruitment strategies for hospitals:
- Create a great hospital culture: Your current nurses can be one of your best resources to attract new talent. If your employees love working for your hospital, then they will tell other nurses. Use this word of mouth to your advantage. Create an inspiring work culture at your hospital, and you’ll not only recruit new talent to your staff, but also retain your current nurses. What does that look like? Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Start with appreciation. Nurses work hard and their work deserves recognition. A little recognition goes a long way, and it can be pretty easy to do with week-long, annual events like National Nurses Week. Everyone wants to work where they know they are valued.
- Hire temporary nurses. Temporary staff, like Travel Nurses or Per Diem Nurses, also help increase staff morale. They can help reduce the amount of stress on permanent staff and prevent burnout. As an added bonus, your patients also receive better care.
- Combat nurse hazing. Nurse bullying has been a hot topic lately in the healthcare field. With a strong anti-bullying policy in place, you can prevent this kind of culture at your hospital. Strong leadership is key, so you’ll have to hold employees accountable when necessary.
- Offer Professional Development: Cushy benefits packages are great incentives to offer nurses, but they aren’t always everything. Some nurses are willing to work for less if your hospital offers professional development. Ongoing training allows your nursing staff the opportunity to sharpen their skills and provides a path to advancement within the hospital system.
- Revise your hiring practices: As a healthcare staffing manager, you want to hire the right people for the right job. Sounds simple in theory, but it can be hard to execute in reality. You might want to consider hiring Travel Nurses, or better yet, a healthcare staffing agency. Medical Solutions, one of the nation’s leading Travel Nurse staffing companies, has a MSP division known as Medical Solutions Plus. Medical Solutions Plus will handle the tedious hiring process for you and solve your nurse shortage with high quality short-term contract nurses. Medical Solutions Plus’ Multi-Point Screening Process will also ensure that your hospital has only the crème de la crème of recruits.
When all is said and done, you want your hospital to have a well-functioning staff and provide quality patient care. Even in this era of dramatic nurse shortages, you can stay ahead of the staffing curve. Just follow the above top 3 nurse recruitment strategies for hospitals, and you’ll be on your way!
When more than 4,000 Minneapolis-based Allina healthcare nurses went on strike Sunday, the news made national headlines. Fortunately for their patients, 1,400 Travel Nurses stepped in as replacements during the planned week-long strike. Unlike the 2010 Allina strike, where 12,000 nurses walked out of 14 different hospitals, this strike affects only five area hospitals in the Twin Cities area. Although this strike is on a significantly smaller scale, it can still place a burden on hospitals and their patients.
There are many reasons why a nurse strike like this one can happen. Some factors could include health insurance costs or nurse/patient safety issues. Whatever the reason, nurse strikes may be costly, stressful, and possibly interfere with patient care. However, this doesn’t always have to be the case. If your hospital is ever faced with a labor dispute from your nurses’ union, you can rely on Nurse Bridge to help find qualified replacement nurses during a strike.
Nurse Bridge, Medical Solution’s strike division, has been supporting hospitals and healthcare systems with replacement workers since 1998. In fact, Nurse Bridge recently sent approximately 500 nurses to the Allina strike last week. Nurse Bridge takes away all the stress of finding replacement staff for you. They can help you do the following:
- Recruit replacement staff from their national database
- Manage the screening process
- Coordinate the transportation and scheduling of temporary workers
- Provide quality control by reviewing assignments, patient insight, and worker fatigue levels during the strike
As a hospital administrator, you never want to sacrifice quality patient care during a labor dispute. While we hope you never experience a strike at your hospital, Nurse Bridge can offer you a seamless transition with a replacement staff. Want to know what hospitals think about Nurse Bridge? You can read their testimonials here.
Has your hospital staff ever gone on strike? If so, what steps did you take to ensure your patients received adequate care?
Hospitals have always played a vital role in providing essential medical care during disasters. Depending on the nature of these tragedies, the demands placed on hospital facilities and their staff can be overwhelming. However, with the right emergency response, hospitals can potentially save more lives in spite of these critical events. In the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, it’s important to review your hospital’s emergency response plan. Here’s a handy checklist to help you make sure your facility is fully prepared for anything!
- Review Your Command and Control System: As part of a command and control system, there should be a hospital incident command group, with representatives from each department within the hospital. Each person in this group should be trained to coordinate their respective emergency response tasks. Create a command center or area in your hospital that can be equipped to handle emergency response activities with an effective means of communication.
- Communicate: In times of crisis, communication is key. You’ll need to brief hospital staff on their roles within your emergency plan. You’ll also want to make sure your public relations department coordinates hospital communications to the public, media and health authorities and has a designated location to hold press conferences. Last, but not least, make sure you have reliable primary and back-up communication systems, i.e. phones, mobile devices, internet connection, etc. and access to an updated contact list.
- Maintain Safety and Security Procedures: Develop a security team and ask them to help identify potential security and safety risks within the hospital. From this list, implement a plan to ensure these security measures are clearly identified and addressed.
- Organize a Triage and Surge Capacity Plan: There should be an experienced triage staff member in charge of all triage operations during an emergency. In the event of mass casualties, determine how your triage area will receive these patients, and identify a separate waiting area for wounded patients able to walk. Depending on the disaster, your hospital staff may also have to expand beyond its normal capacity to meet the increased demand. So, determine how you can expand hospital areas for patient overflow. When necessary, work with local authorities to find additional sites that may be converted to patient care units.
- Ensure Continuity of Essential Services: Even during a critical event, essential hospital services must continue, so identify these services and the resources needed to maintain them. You may also want to coordinate with the local hospital care network to ensure that provision for these services are continuous throughout the community.
- Coordinate Human Resources and Manage Supplies: A hospital is only as good as its personnel. This is especially true during an emergency. You may have to call in off-duty staff to help with the increased demand, so it’s important to have a current contact list. It’s a good idea to have a contingency plan to handle the potential longer shifts, and be able to provide for food, water and living space for the additional personnel. Make sure you’ll have the necessary equipment, supplies, and pharmaceuticals needed, or have a plan in place on how to maintain these supplies during the crisis.
- Post-disaster recovery: Inform your staff the crisis has ended, and the hospital can resume normal operations. After such a critical event, your staff may need access to counseling or family support services, so it’s wise to provide a post-disaster recovery program. Don’t forget to acknowledge and appreciate your staff’s hard work after the event as well.
We hope your hospital will never have to enact an emergency response plan, but it’s better to be prepared. These actions can help save more lives in the event of a catastrophe. For additional resources on hospital emergency response plans, please click here.
Last week hospital leaders got a new reason to worry about the safety of their patients and staff, when researchers reported that a drug-resistant superbug gene, known as mcr-1, had appeared in the United States for the first time. Healthcare professionals have known for some time this would likely come to pass, but now that it’s a reality, what steps can you take to maintain superior patient care and ensure the safety of your patients and hospital staff? Here are 3 actions you can take to help protect your hospital staff and patients from the latest superbug:
- Inform your staff: Many on your hospital staff are busy saving lives, and might not be aware of the most current medical news out there. To that end, knowledge is power. Researchers recently discovered the mcr-1 gene, which causes resistance to the antibiotic colistin, in a urine sample of a Pennsylvania woman with an e-coli infection. Fortunately, the woman’s case was treatable with other last-resort antibiotics. The gene is easily transferable between species of bacteria due to its location on the bacteria’s DNA. The ability to share its colistin-resistant trait to other bacterium poses the risk of creating pan-resistant bacteria.
- Review your policies with your staff: It’s important to review your hospital’s basic infection control policies and PPE guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has an excellent example here. Plan refresher training courses if necessary to remind your staff, and create a preparedness checklist should one of your patients contract an infection with the superbug mcr-1 gene. Continue to educate yourself and your staff on any updates regarding drug-resistant bacteria.
- Continue to stay proactive: It’s no secret that drug-resistant strains of bacteria have been found before on medical equipment and sometimes healthcare workers themselves. Over the years, procedures and policies have been enacted to prevent such cases from happening again. However, it should be noted that patients could also be carriers of a superbug. In a recent University of Michigan study, 25 percent of hospital patients tested had some sort of drug-resistant germ on their hands when they were discharged from the hospital.
It is the ultimate goal of healthcare workers to protect their patients. With these basic steps, your hospital staff will have the resources to prevent the spread of drug-resistant superbugs, and as a result save more patients’ lives. To read more about the discovery of the mcr-1 gene, please click here.
As a healthcare professional, what are your thoughts on the latest news regarding the mcr-1 gene?
Whether you’re a nurse yourself, you employ nurses, or both apply to you, Medical Solutions’ Nurses Week 2016 celebration will be of interest to you and a fun way to help your facility’s hardworking nurses celebrate Nurses Week 2016!
Nurses should visit WeLoveOurNurses.com to join in the fun. Here’s a bit about what Medical Solutions has on tap for Nurses Week 2016:
#NurseLaughLove Instagram Contest
Nurses can enter this contest by sharing pictures to Instagram of anything they want to profess their love for with the hashtag #NurseLaughLove. We’re talking people, places, things, ideas — get creative and show us the love, nurses! Instagram profile must be public for entry to count and winners will be chosen based on creativity, style, and quality. Entrants are eligible to win one of the following prizes, all courtesy of Medical Solutions:
- One grand prize $250 Amazon gift card
- Three $100 Amazon gift cards
- Six $50 Amazon gift cards
Show ’em the Love Mentor Contest
Most nurses have a mentor who really helped make them the nurse they are today. So, tell us: Who is your beloved mentor — the wind beneath your nursing wings — and why? for the chance to win prizes and properly honor your mentor!
- Three mentor/mentee pairs will be randomly chosen as winners
- All six will each win a $100 Ulta gift card (courtesy of Medical Solutions)
- The three winning mentees will also each win a $50 Tafford Uniforms gift card! (courtesy of our friends at Tafford Uniforms)
We Heart RNs Tribute Video
It’s true: We LOVE RNs. And CNAs, LPNs, NPs — ALL of the amazing nursing professionals who are out there giving their all in the name of excellent patient care. So this year, Medical Solutions gathered together our team, members of the community, and some very special guests to honor nurses by creating a very special tribute video which will be revealed on May 6 to kick off Nurses Week 2016 festivities.
Fifth Annual Nurses of Tomorrow Scholarship
Medical Solutions hosts and funds the Nurses of Tomorrow Scholarship Contest. In light of the ever-growing nationwide nurse shortage, our team wants to support the education and development of future nurses and nurse leaders. Three lucky nurse scholars will each win a $2,000 scholarship to put towards their education costs! Entries will be accepted here through June 1, 2016.
Nurses Week eCards
Enjoy three free, shareable, and downloadable cards in celebration of Nurses Week. You can post them to Facebook, tag your friends, and download them to share via email or through other social sites.
Please share these festivities with your nurse staff and nurse colleagues — all are welcome. Happy Nurses Week!
The American Nurses Association (ANA) provides an excellent toolkit every year for hospitals, clinics, and other organizations to help them celebrate Nurses Week.
Nurses Week, May 6-12 each year, is a wonderful opportunity for facilities to recognize and celebrate the crucial role that nurses play in healthcare and everything they do to ensure great patient care.
Once again, the ANA has shared its ANA National Nurses Week Resource Toolkit, which is an excellent resource for facilities and others in planning their Nurses Week events and celebrations.
This year’s toolkit includes:
- A professionally designed “Thank You” card, easily customizable with your logo
- A printable Certificate of Appreciation
- A template for a Nurses Week email to send to you team
- A Nurses Week banner you can add your logo to and print via a local vendor
- Online ads you can post to your organization’s website
- Various downloadable versions of the official ANA National Nurses Week 2016 logo
- Documents and articles providing resources for your team with tips on celebrating Nurses Week at your facility, sharing your celebration with the media, and more!
Click here for a free download of the ANA’s 2016 National Nurses Week Resource Toolkit.
Medical Solutions Announces 2015 Traveler of the Year, Service That Inspires, and Recruiters of the Year Award Winners
Once again this year, the winners of Medical Solutions’ Traveler of the Year and Service That Inspires Award winners are excellent representatives of the above and beyond, quality nurses staffed through Medical Solutions!
At this time we also honor Recruiter of the Year winners, as it’s our awesome Career Consultants who work so hard to recruit the best nurses out there and to help advise and guide them through their journeys — caring not solely about placements, but also about quality placements that are a good mutual fit for both facility and Traveler!
So, without further ado, here are the 2015 winners:
Traveler of the Year
The Traveler of the Year is chosen from our pool of 12 Traveler of the Month winners from throughout the year, who are chosen based upon their perfect hospital evaluations. So, this is truly a best of the best situation.
The 2015 Traveler of the Year award went to the wonderful Barbara H.! Barb is truly the bee’s knees and is so good at her job that she was awarded Traveler of the Month awards in both 2014 and 2015. In fact, in May 2014 we got the chance to surprise Barb in person when she visited our Omaha office. Check it out — but do watch your volume control, the cheers got pretty loud for Barb!
Barb has 33 years of nursing experience, with expertise in ICU/ER, Home Health, Hospice, and PACU. She first started Travel Nursing in the late ’80s and she enjoys traveling with her canine companions, Kona and Lucy.
“I love the challenge of coming to a new area and hospital and learning their processes,” says Barb. “It keeps my brain young.”
She also loves her recruiter, Ronnie E., and the feeling is mutual!
“Barb always gets great reviews from hospitals and personnel,” he says. “You can just tell by talking with her that she really cares about her job. We have a mutual trust and respect for one another. I LOVE having Barb on the team. She is definitely an MVP in my book.”
In addition to major bragging rights, Barb was awarded a Sonos Play 1 Bluetooth Speaker, a $50 Amazon gift card, and lunch catered in for her and her unit. Thanks again for all your hard work, Barb!
Service That Inspires Award
This award is reserved for a Traveler with a great story of service on the job as a Travel Nurse. Our 2015 Service That Inspires Award winner is Sara O.! She also won a Sonos Play 1 Bluetooth Speaker, a $50 Amazon gift card, and lunch catered in for her and her unit.
Sara is an oncology nurse who went above and beyond for a patient in Seattle last year — even going as far as shaving her head in solidarity. Here’s Sara’s amazing story in her own words:
“I was working in Seattle and had a 20-year-old kid with lymphoma. She always had the best attitude and we instantly bonded. She would bring some of her family members and sometimes her boyfriend and we always had a good time while she was getting her treatments. Well, one day she came in to my clinic and told me she was starting to lose her hair. I told her that she needed to have a shaving party and invite all her family and friends over and shave off her hair. Then I said that if she decided to have a shaving party, I would come and she could shave my head first … so that’s what we did! On the day of the shaving party, we took some before and after pictures and three other people besides myself decided to participate. Her boyfriend, her uncle, and a dear family friend that had shoulder length hair. My patient did the honors, shaving my head first, followed by the rest of the participants. She was last; each person took turns and I did the honors of completing the job. It is a day I will always remember, with a patient I will never forget.”
The Medical Solutions team is truly blown away to have such dedicated, caring nurses working for us. It’s an amazing feeling to know we’re providing facilities nationwide with such stellar superstars!
Recruiter of the Year Winners
So, how do we find such amazing nurses as Barb and Sara? Simple. Equally amazing Travel Nurse recruiters — like our 2015 Recruiter of the Year winners Brad B. and Jen L.!
These two awards are chosen based upon a pool of Traveler nominations. While we received so many nominations for our crew of excellent Career Consultant, Jen and Brad rose to the top in 2015. These two dedicated Career Consultants are what Medical Solutions is all about — they use open and honest communication, are always there for their Travelers, and consistently keep in mind what’s best for the Travelers and facilities they serve.
One of Brad’s nominating Travelers said, “Brad is always on your team. He goes above and beyond and makes this a fun, rewarding journey.”
One of Jen’s nominating Travelers said, “Jen has become more than just my recruiter — she is also my friend. She only presents jobs that she knows will fit my needs and interests. She is always ready to answer questions, solve problems, or just let me vent. While I am on assignment she checks on me frequently — I never feel alone.”
As those who handles staffing in hospitals know, a happy nurse is a productive nurse and one that is free to give the best patient care possible. Thanks again, Brad and Jen, for helping Travelers build great careers and for helping hospitals get superior nurses for their staffing needs!
Once again a study has found that the better a facility’s nurse staffing levels, the lower patient mortality is as a result.
This most recent study was published this week in JAMA Surgery. Data was drawn from nearly 26,000 Medicare general surgery patients who had been treated between 2004 and 2006 in Illinois, Texas, and New York hospitals. It found that the better staffed with nurses a hospital was, the less likely it was that a patient would die or be sent to ICU.
Beyond the benefits to patient care and mortality rates, the study found that the total cost of surgery stayed around $27,000 regardless of if it was a higher or lower staffed hospital.
Lead study author Dr. Jeffrey Silber, Director of the Center for Outcomes Research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said that hospitals that had staffed better had “a formula for excellent value.”
While the debate over nurse staffing certainly continues, it is helpful to access studies such as the recent JAMA Surgery report to help guide your hospital’s staffing strategies!
The Joint Commission’s 2015 annual report is now available.
“This year’s report summarizes performance data collected during 2014 on 49 accountability measures of care in 12 measure sets — the most diverse set of data ever collected from American hospitals by The Joint Commission for this report,” writes Mark R. Chassin, MD, FACP, MPP, MPH, President and CEO of The Joint Commission.
Big news emerging from the report includes the fact that The Joint Commission will suspend its Top Performers list for 2016, with plans to evaluate the program and resume in 2017. The report indicates that over the past couple of years there have been a lot of changes to the performance measurements for hospitals.
“Due to the evolving national performance measure environment particularly within the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services — we have decided to place the current Top Performer program in hiatus for a year to be reevaluated,” writes Chassin. “While we won’t be recognizing Top Performer hospitals in the fall of 2016, I am confident that hospitals will continue to improve, and that in 2017, we will return with a refreshed program that will better fit the evolving national measure environment while supporting Top Performers and hospitals on track to achieving this recognition.”
In 2015, 3,300 hospitals submitted data for the 2015 report and 31.5% (or 1,043 hospitals) landed on the Top Performers list. The 2015 list utilized 49 accountability measures as criteria for evaluating hospital performance on evidence-based care processes.
Click here to see a full PDF of The Joint Commission’s Annual Report for 2015.