Q: We hear so much about the patient experience. But how do we know if we're delivering an exceptional experience to our patients?
A: Today's healthcare systems focus largely on patient experience as it relates to safety, quality, and performance. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, patient experience is a combination of a targeted range of interactions that patients have within the healthcare system as a whole, such as health or care plans and communication with physicians, nurses, and other inpatient and outpatient hospital staff. There are several methods to collect and collate this information, but the goal is to capture data to improve patient satisfaction. In our pay-for-performance climate, patient experience is one of our most valuable indicators.
The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS or “H caps”) survey is the foundation on which all patient experience data are based and encompasses communication, education, and the hospital environment itself. The overall hospital rating is scored, as well as willingness to recommend the hospital to others. The HCAHPS surveys are completely random picks from your patient population, but some patient experience data collection methods vary in percentage and who's surveyed.
Press Ganey is another example of a patient experience survey process that combines HCAHPS methodology with targeted, patient-centered questions. Press Ganey often surveys 100% of patients in the setting and provides feedback that ranks the surveyed organization against like organizations and national benchmarks.
HCAHPS scores are well researched, nationally reported, and account for 25% of your value-based purchasing score, which, in turn, affects Medicare reimbursement rates. Value-based purchasing and pay-for-performance programs reward hospitals for better quality and experience scores. There's a direct link to the bottom line that affects budgets and daily operations.
It's crucial for nurse leaders to understand the importance of the patient experience score, regardless of what measurement tool is utilized, and be clear on what drives patient experience. Every employee in the organization must support the total experience concept and work toward the goal that every patient leaves with a sense of his or her needs being met. Delivering an exceptional patient experience begins with a patient-centered focus that places patients' needs and safety at the center of all decisions and interactions.
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Manwaring A. How HCAHPS scores and Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement affect nursing care. Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research. 2017. http://ucur.org/abstracts/?p=102