May 18 2020
In the medical world, as we shift towards an outcomes/value-based environment, the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey is becoming more and more important. With this shift comes an increased focus on patient feedback.
In very general terms, the HCAHPS survey is a way for hospital patients to communicate with their healthcare providers about their experience during their hospital stay. This survey, which is required by the CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) for all hospitals in the US, is administered via phone shortly after discharge to all adult patients (psychiatric patients are excluded). The survey, which has answer options ranging from “Never” to “Always,” focuses on eight areas related to patients’ care and experience:
- Doctor Communication
- Nurse Communication
- Staff Responsiveness
- Hospital Environment
- Management Medication Communication
- Discharge Information
- Food Services
- Overall Rating of the Hospital
It’s important to consider each of these areas as you tackle improvements necessary to raise your HCAHPS scores.
How to Raise HCAHPS Scores: 4 Changes + Areas to Consider
The HCAHPS gives patients a way to communicate their experience in the hospital, which can help hospitals provide the best care possible and see where there is room for improvement. Since survey results can benefit both patients and hospitals, it’s important to decide which areas to focus on and how to improve these areas to raise HCAHPS scores to higher numbers and better patient care.
1. Focus on Hospital Culture:
When a hospital’s culture is based on patients and patient care, and when hospital leadership demonstrates this culture through example, one important result can be increases in HCAHPS scores. A fringe benefit of a thriving, patient-based hospital culture is happier hospital staff from leadership to service people, which can also translate to higher scores.
2. Improve Communication with Patient Folders:
Constant and effective communication is crucial between both patients and providers and also between providers. Since patients’ care and experience is heavily interwoven with communication, improving communication channels—both verbal and written—is essential to improving HCAHPS scores.
Things like clear and highly detailed verbal and written discharge instructions as well as post-discharge follow-up calls will likely improve the patient experience. Our patient folders offer a way for patients and their caregivers to have easily accessible, clearly written documentation from their providers for their stay in the hospital as well as post-discharge for follow-up care.
While it’s important to be vigilant about verbal communication with every patient, pairing verbal with written communication increases the likelihood of patients understanding and feeling a part of their care. This type of communication also fosters that hospital culture that is so important—when both patients and providers feel the lines of communication are open, culture grows.
3. Educate with Patient Room Boards:
In addition to verbal and written communication provided throughout the hospital stay, having a wall-mounted board for each patient in their hospital room provides clear, clean, and detailed communication regarding all aspects of their care while in the hospital. It also enables any family members and friends to be involved in patient care.
4. Asses the Data:
Data doesn’t lie, so it’s important for hospitals to use the data provided by HCAHPS surveys to not only see where they are doing well, but more importantly, to see areas where they could improve. Data also provides insights into what is actually most important to patients, which could potentially be different than providers’ assumptions.
In order to streamline the process of increasing your scores, it’s important to continue to assess the responses to see the positive impact of what you’ve changed and re-evaluate the negatives that are showing up. If you make this part of your process, you’re sure to improve more than just the scores of your hospital. Remember, hospitals receive government reimbursements based on survey results, so the better results, the more money hospitals will receive, adding even more stability to the hospital’s bottom line. It’s a win-win.
Ready to increase your level of patient care and, consequently, your HCAHPS scores? Contact us, and we’ll work together to help you make your patients happy AND get those scores as high as possible, which is a win-win for everyone!