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 B., 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 publicly 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.