Smaller hospitals tend to fare better with patient satisfaction bonuses

If your hospital management wants to score a patient satisfaction bonus from Medicare, it pays to be a smaller facility that focuses on a particular specialty.

That's the case with Novant Health-owned Medical Park Hospital in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which recently reaped a $22,000 patient satisfaction bonus from the Medicare program, Kaiser Health News reported. That it was a smaller, two-story facility with a somewhat homey feel and an ability to attract a lot of elective surgery patients apparently helped, according to the publication. 

"It kind of feels almost like a mom-and-pop shop," surgeon Scott Berger, M.D., told Kaiser Health News.

As a result, larger hospitals--which often admit many patients through noisy and often chaotic emergency departments, may find it difficult to compete for such bonuses."A lot of these metrics that the hospitals are measured on, the game is sort of rigged against (large hospitals) in a sense just because of the kind of facility they are," Chas Roades, a consultant with The Advisory Board Company, told Kaiser Health News

Patient satisfaction can be a tough nut for hospitals to crack. Some have pursued a five-piece marketing framework known as RATER that includes reliability, assurance, tangibles, empathy and responsiveness in order to brainstorm ideas and improve patient satisfaction and overall scores.

However, the bonuses themselves tend to have an ethereal, on-paper type of quality to them. A large number of bonuses reaped by hospitals are wiped out by penalties imposed by the Medicare program for other issues, such as patient readmission scores. As a result, fewer than half of the 1,700 hospitals that scored bonuses will actually have more money in hand from the value-based purchasing initiatives than they started out with, FierceHealthFinance previously reported. 

To learn more:
- read the Kaiser Health News article