Healthgrades' top-ranked hospitals offer insights on patient experience

Healthgrades' annual Patient Safety Excellence Award and Outstanding Patient Experience Award winners offer valuable lessons about what drives patient satisfaction, according to a white paper from the firm.

To determine the winners for both awards, Healthgrades applied a scoring methodology to 10 patient experience measures using Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services claims data.

More than 450 hospitals achieved the Patient Experience Award, while 467 received the Patient Safety Excellence Award, indicating they are in the top 10 percent of hospitals for patient safety. If all hospitals had performed similar to hospitals with "better than expected" patient safety performances from 2011 to 2013, they could have prevented an average of 133,896 patient safety events, the company said in an announcement

The white paper analyzed the evolution of how patient experience is measured and how it relates to overall satisfaction; discrepancies in patient experience based on hospital type or geography; and areas where patient safety would benefit from increased focus. Major findings included:

  • The correlation has decreased between responses to certain survey questions--such as whether patients received help in a timely manner--and patients' likelihood to recommend a hospital, and it has increased for others.
  • The experience measures that track with overall scores vary according to both hospital type and geographical region.
  • The strength of the correlation between "likelihood to recommend" and overall rating is declining overall.

"In the area of patient experience, our white paper suggests that hospitals need to better understand shifting drivers of satisfaction in diverse patient populations across different hospital settings," Chief Strategy Officer Evan Marks said in the announcement. "With regard to patient safety, the Healthgrades report found that since 75 percent of incidents reported by all hospitals were concentrated within seven conditions/procedures, hospitals should focus their evaluation and preventive measures within these cohorts, streamlining their efforts for maximum results." 

The changes in correlation, the white paper says, indicate that the questions hospitals ask patients may be due for a reevaluation. Rather than relying entirely on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey questions, it suggests, hospitals should seek to improve patient experience by asking patients what matters to them, much like brands and companies outside of the healthcare sector, such as Starbucks, do.

If providers are to adapt to changing preferences among their patient base, they must develop tools that allow them to gauge these preferences, and "[u]nderstanding what consumers value is key to balancing the scale between value-based purchasing models and sustaining growth for desired  areas," the paper states.

Patient experience is an increasingly important priority for providers as the healthcare industry transitions to a value-based model. Yet a recent study found Healthgrades' ratings often clash with those of other services such as U.S. News & World Report and the Leapfrog Group, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- read the white paper (.pdf)