Hospital discharge instructions boost patient satisfaction

Patients' satisfaction with hospital care rose 1.6 percent, according to a HealthGrades report released today. Although it may seem like only modest gains, patients' overall response to the federal Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is notable.

Based on data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of nearly 3,800 hospitals from April 2009 to March 2010, the report showed 81 percent of patients said they were most satisfied at the time of hospital discharge because they received instructions.

However, patients were most dissatisfied with the quietness of their rooms (55 percent) and explanation about medications (58 percent).

"It's clear that patients are driving higher quality in our nation's hospitals," said Dr. Rick May, HealthGrades vice president of clinical quality programs in a statement. "Hospitals take HCAHPS survey results very seriously and invest time and resources to ensure each patient's experience is the best possible. This is yet another example of how transparency in healthcare drives quality."

HCAHPS is the first national, standardized report of patients' perceptions of hospital care and published publicly to encourage transparency and accountability. With watchful eyes, healthcare organizations closely look at HCAHPS scores as a measure of their patients' experience and hospital rating.

The top 10 percent of hospitals identified in the HealthGrades report with the best patient satisfaction ratings had the following in common: Patients received help from staff quickly, staff explained medications prior to administering them, pain was managed and patients would recommend the hospital to family or friends.

For more:
- read the HealthGrades press release
- check out the HCAHPS fact sheet (.pdf)

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