Most hospitals have been measuring patient satisfaction for a number of years. But now that patients can compare hospital satisfaction rates through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey, how will hospitals intensify their efforts to improve the patient experience?
System director of customer service
We have focused on patient satisfaction for so many years that HCAHPS was not new for us. We did classroom training with our managers so they would understand what it was and how it worked. I don't think the Web site has gotten as many hits as they thought it was going to get initially. But I do believe that as it becomes more familiar to consumers, they will use it to make healthcare decisions. Hospitals are paying closer attention to the patient experience than they have before, because—right or wrong—it is mandated that we do this. Our reimbursement is tied to how well we do. I'm not saying that is the right reason to do it, but that will be the reason for a lot of hospitals that haven't made service a real priority. In the first round of results, we fared pretty well. But by no means does that mean we sit back and take it easy.
Director of children's specialty services and behavioral health
St. Luke's Hospital
Cedar Rapids, IA
As HCAHPS came on the scene, we took the view that we were already doing the work that was essential. We really didn't do too much educating the staff specifically about HCAHPS until early this year. Our overall rating was very high. But one of the things that didn't look as good as we would like was the domain about managing pain, so we are focusing on it in the next couple of months. We are offering an intensive competency training for every clinician in the hospital—mostly how to talk about pain and emphasizing the important things to ask and say. Most patients and families can't judge clinical quality well unless there was a huge mistake or something miraculous. They expect that there will be quality, so the greatest differentiator becomes what the experience was like.