No docs on staff, no ER but happy hospital patients

TriHealth Evendale Hospital in Cincinnati doesn't have an emergency room and doesn't employ any doctors. Normal business hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Yet month after month, the 29-bed hospital consistently scores high marks for patient satisfaction, according to the Cincinnati Business Courier.

The surgical hospital, which until last year was owned by physicians, had high patient satisfaction scores even before TriHealth purchased it in January. But since the hospital acquisition, its Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey scores--which link hospital payments to how well they treat patients--continue to rise, according to the article.

In fact, in June and August, the newspaper reports 100 percent of patients surveyed gave the hospital the highest scores possible for overall quality.

Hospital officials told the newspaper they attribute the high scores to its staff of 217, which includes 54 nurses, but no longer any doctors. "They're motivated. They feel like part of a winning team all day," Matthew Langenderfer, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon who founded the original hospital and maintains an independent practice, told the Courier.

The hospital performs approximately 13,000 surgeries and roughly 5,000 imaging procedures each year in its 10 operating rooms. About 90 percent of its inpatients are recovering from total knee, hip or shoulder replacement surgery, according to the Courier. "We have a very high-quality surgeon staff here," Langenderfer said. "We don't allow physicians here who are going to be disruptive in personalities or practices."

The hospital has about 600 inpatients a year and the average inpatient stay is two days. Kelvin Hanger, the hospital's executive director, told the newspaper only 5 percent of inpatients remain hospitalized on a Saturday or Sunday. As a result, he said, few of the staff work weekends and no one is on call to come in late at night.

Another patient satisfaction factor is likely linked to nurse-patient ratios, according to Hanger. Each TriHealth Evendale hospital nurse cares for three patients, he told the newspaper, compared to bigger hospitals in Cincinnati whose nurses are responsible for four to eight patients.

Hospitals across the country are working to improve patient satisfaction in response to the Affordable Care Act and HCAHPS scores. For example, this year California hospitals, unhappy with their state-wide patient satisfaction scores, launched an initiative to create customer service positions, change security procedures and measure nurse volume outside patient rooms, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Earlier this month, a study in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma determined doctors can improve a patient's hospital stay just by sharing a few facts about themselves and making sure the patients know their names.

To learn more:
- read the article
- here's the national HCAHPS scores

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