Reform pushes patient satisfaction, hospital quality efforts

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With hospitals bracing themselves for changes under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, they are primarily focusing on the patient experience, one of the care measures under value-based purchasing, according to a new study by Healthcare Research & Analytics.

With patient satisfaction determining 30 percent of Medicare incentive payments and improved clinical outcomes deciding 70 percent starting in October, hospitals are prioritizing efforts that monitor and drive quality and patient satisfaction, according to study respondents.

"[Value-based purchasing is] a big focus for us," an anonymous hospital administrator said in the study. "[The] quality council meets monthly to make sure we optimize potential for return."

Yet respondents acknowledged that unlike quality, patient satisfaction is based on subjective, individual performance evaluation rather than concrete measures. 

The study also found that hospital leaders find it unfair to determine patient satisfaction on a national basis, due to the geographic variations among patient populations. "With the patient [satisfaction] measures, there's a feeling [that] people in the Northeast are generally more critical than in the South or Midwest. It may be we're at a disadvantage being measured nationally on this," the hospital administrator noted.

Nevertheless, increased focus on patient experience of care measures needs commitment from top leadership, Jason Wolf, executive director of The Beryl Institute, a patient experience community, wrote in a previous Hospital Impact blog post. He also cited a study that found hospitals with a role dedicated to patient experience often saw better outcomes in HCAHPS and internal patient satisfaction surveys.

To learn more:
- read the HRA announcement

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