HCAHPS and the bottom line: Will free valet parking keep hospitals afloat?

With the launch of Medicare's value-based purchasing (VBP) program for hospitals practically around the corner, hospitals in competitive markets like Nashville, Tenn., are working fast and furious to improve their Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey scores, reports the Nashville Business Journal.

During the June "2010 ANI: The Healthcare Finance Conference" held in Las Vegas by the Healthcare Financial Management Association, presenters Gunter Wessels, a partner at Total Innovation Group, and Hal Andrews, managing director and chief development officer at The Martin Companies, estimated that HCAHPS scores would account for 10 percent of each hospital's VBP ranking under the Medicare program. "Little things like the cleanliness of the floor are going to have a bottom-line impact on your reimbursement," advised Wessels.

However, Nashville-area hospitals, concerned that managed care organizations and other private insurers might be following suit in linking reimbursement to the HCAHPS scores, are going well beyond making sure the floors are spotless, reports the Business Journal. On the more moderate side, Centennial Medical Center has installed devices to monitor noise levels on patient floors and is using white noise machines and ear plugs to reduce disturbances from its ongoing construction projects. But Saint Thomas Hospital is going all out, offering everything from a more soothing decorating scheme to free valet parking, golf cart shuttles, free coffee and snacks in waiting areas, and complimentary massages to lessen family members' stress.

To learn more:
- read this Nashville Business Journal article
- find out more about the HCAHPS survey here
- see hospitals' HCAHPS scores at the Hospital Compare website