Hospitals ready for value-based purchasing with higher patient satisfaction

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Despite the dark cloud of reduced reimbursements, hospitals are prepared for value-based purchasing (VBP) with patients reporting higher satisfaction levels, according to Press Ganey.

Noting that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Hospital Compare public data does not cover the VBP performance period, Press Ganey looked at patient discharge data through October 2011--the most recent available--and found that patients' average "likelihood to recommend" score for hospitals was 1.5 points higher in October 2011, compared to April 2010 through March 2011.

In July 2011, hospitals saw an overall rating average increase of almost three-quarters of a point (0.7) compared to the previous month. Nearly half a million more patients would "definitely recommend" their hospital, compared to the previous year (ending in March 2011), according to Press Ganey, which used American Hospital Association admissions data for more than 36.9 million patients.

Since the VBP performance period began, the overall hospital performance score has continued to improve. The average overall hospital rating in October 2011 was 0.9 percentage points higher than the average score for April 2010 through March 2011, according to Press Ganey.

"Our analysis shows that hospitals prepared well for the start of the value-based purchasing performance period which began in July 2011," Deirdre Mylod, vice president, improvement services at Press Ganey, said in an announcement yesterday. "The sharp rise that we can see in our more recent data--which is not yet visible in the public data--is similar to the increase we saw in our database after CMS initiated a national consumer awareness campaign about the HCAHPS survey in May 2008."

Forty-four percent of U.S. hospitals participate in CMS' HCAHPS survey.

Starting in October, Medicare reimbursements to hospitals will be based on performance measures, according to rules from CMS issued last year. Patient satisfaction will determine 30 percent of the incentive payments, while improved clinical outcomes will decide 70 percent.

The measure is troubling, Martin Ciccocioppo, vice president of research for the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, told the (Scranton, Pa.) Times-Tribune in January. "There's no clear scientific link between (patient satisfaction) and the quality of care they received," he said.

For more information:
- here's the Press Ganey announcement
- read the Times-Tribune article

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