HCAHPS takes the mystery out of patient satisfaction

By now, everyone should know that patient satisfaction data is no longer public. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) developed the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems or HCAHPS for short, to increase accountability and transparency of healthcare delivery practices. It is the first public, and nationwide standardized survey that provides direct comparisons of hospital services.

Survey results are posted on the web at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov along with other clinical measures to give patients a fairly complete view of the quality any given hospital is providing. One idea behind this is that consumers will “shop around” for their healthcare, something like one would shop around for a restaurant or a new car.

At my, like most hospitals we use in addition to HCAHPS, another survey tool that measures many more aspects of patient care and performance. A drawback to HCAHPS is that it measures only the basic elements of patients care, excluding a lot of factors important to patients in their overall experience.

For my area of responsibility HCAHPS includes only one question: “During this stay, how often were your room and restroom kept clean?” -Never, Sometimes, Usually or Always. This can be misleading because it does not measure the level of cleanliness, only the frequency. If the housekeeper makes several visits to your room does that mean “Usually” or “Always”. If the housekeeper makes several visits to tidy or straighten up but does not clean would that influence the response”.

Regardless of the answer to that we take definite and clear steps to improve our scores and raise the patient awareness that we are cleaning, and we want their room and restroom to always be clean, really clean. Our staff are trained with scripting and hospitality programs that include greeting the patient and letting them know what we will be doing in their room. We use leave behind cards when the patient is asleep or away for a test letting them know their room was cleaned and a phone extension to call if they would like any further service.

I have no doubt that HCAHPS, in the present form or revised will remain. I work hard to help my staff be successful at delivering a quality service to our patients and guests worthy of the “Always” score. We will continue to do so regardless of this survey though. Our greatest satisfaction comes from the patient who really feels their room is very clean and safe for them.

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