Strategies for improving HCAHPS

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, commonly referred to as HCAHPS, is a survey sent to patients post-discharge and is used to measure how satisfied a patient is with his or her recent hospital experience. Not only are hospitals reimbused based upon their HCAHPS scores, but it is also a differentiator for patients in the competitive process of choosing the right care provider.

Hospitals across the country are focusing on ways to improve patient satisfaction. Below are a few strategies to see the increases across HCAHPS survey domains.

Focusing on patient perceptions

While studies have shown that patient satisfaction scores and actual quality of care do not correlate or rely on each other, it does not mean that the patient’s perception of care does not matter. While a patient might not know the best treatment options, he or she is able to perceive whether or not communication is effective or if he or she feels safe.
In order to raise satisfaction scores hospitals should understand why patients are perceiving their care a certain way, and then take steps to improve.
Improving the issue resolution process
There is nothing more frustrating for a patient than when he or she has an issue. Whether it is with medication, diet, or environment, and it can take hours or days to resolve. In order to improve the patient experience, care providers must streamline the issue resolution process.
One way for hospitals to do this is to reduce the amount of time it takes to alert the proper team of a patient issue. When a nurse discovers a problem he or she should be able to contact the right staff member immediately, and feel confident that the patient’s needs are being met without taking more time away from the bedside.

Keep staff members happy

While improving the patient experience is a given when talking about increasing HCAHPS scores, improving the lives of staff members that directly impact patient stays is often not discussed. More engaged and empowered staff members directly translate into happier patients.

Tactics such performing and taking action upon leadership rounds and letting staff members weigh in on decisions are simple ways to positively impact organizational culture that in turn improves patient satisfaction.

Not focusing on the artificial 

When it comes to improving patient experience scores, things such as hospital aethetics or fancy buildings don’t move the needle as much as previously thought. Improving the functionality of hospital design, such as moving the handwashing station within view of the patient, has a much higher impact on patient satisfaction.

Use real-time Data

Something easily overlooked is the lack of real-time data about the patient experience. By the time organizations see their HCAHPS scores, they are outdated by 3-6 months. This lag means the hospital cannot identify and improve issues until they are larger problems.

In order to truly drive satisfaction improvements, care providers must explore tools such as digital rounding solutions to understand ways to increase satisfaction before a patient even leaves the hospital.

It is no secret that increasing HCAHPS scores are necessary for hospitals to avoid penalties and to remain competitive in the changing healthcare landscape. Understanding how hospitals can improve patient satisfaction across domains starts with picking the right strategies for your unique organization.

As Demand Generation Manager, Lucia Huang, RN, integrates her previous experiences on the front lines of patient care within the broader context of the business of healthcare. She is passionate about empowering nurses to provide the highest quality and experience of patient care through technology. Lucia graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and a BSN from the School of Nursing.