"Mystery shoppers" check up on healthcare

The healthcare industry isn't exactly known for its attention to customer service, but with the advent of consumer-driven healthcare, providers can't afford to run a practice that doesn't impress patients. That's why some physicians have turned to "mystery shoppers"--paid employees who pose as patients and evaluate the quality of the service they received. Mystery shoppers are commonly used in the retail and hotel industries, but using their services in the healthcare industry is a fairly recent phenomenon. Providers who have received feedback from the mystery shoppers have made changes to everything from wait times to the TV programming offered in their offices. 

There's another good reason providers should pay attention to customer service. Beginning October 1, CMS will begin ranking hospitals based on customer satisfaction. The information will be made public and no hospital wants to end up on the bottom of that list. In addition to CMS's efforts, patient satisfaction scores factor into an estimated 55 percent of hospitals exec's compensation packages. Using mystery shoppers to identify and fix issues is a good way to address problems before they get out of hand.

- read this article from The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)
- get up to date on CMS's larger pay for performance strategy, which among other things, rewards hospitals that demonstrate high quality across a group of clinical measures. Release