Patients more satisfied with care at Magnet hospitals

Magnet-designated hospitals, which are accredited nationally for nursing excellence, also receive higher ratings from patients--a measure that could also help Magnet hospitals financially, a new study finds.

The study in Health Services Research compared 212 Magnet hospitals with 212 similar non-Magnet hospitals, using data from the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey.  

"Patients in Magnet hospitals gave their hospitals higher overall ratings, were more likely to recommend their hospital, and reported more positive care experiences with nurse communication," the researchers reported. Better patient care experiences, they said, "may positively enhance reimbursement for hospitals." 

Research shows that a patient's hospital experience correlates to the care he or she receives from nurses because they provide the most direct patient care, lead author Amy Witkoski-Stimpfel, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor at the New York University College of Nursing, said in an NYU announcement about the study.

A separate study released this summer found that mortality rates in acute care Magnet hospitals are 20 percent less than in non-Magnet hospitals. The study largely credited better process of care in Magnet hospitals fostered by investments in nursing. Mortality rates were comparable to those found in Kaiser Permanente hospitals.

In fact, just the process of applying for Magnet accreditation can improve the quality of care and the work environment for nurses, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

"Magnet recognized hospitals have consistently been associated with superior patient outcomes, including lower patient mortality and higher nurse job satisfaction," Witkoski-Stimpfel said in the announcement. "And, with an estimated pool of over $1 billion for performance incentives in 2014 fiscal year alone and increases in subsequent years, there is good reason for hospital leaders to be motivated to improve their patients' experience."

When nurses work in a supportive environment and have access to resources, they can then spend more time on patient assessment and education--factors that may explain why NYU researchers observed better communication, pain control and medication explanation scores in the Magnet hospitals, said co-author Matthew D. McHugh, Ph.D., from Penn Nursing's Center for Health Outcomes and Policy Research.

For more:
- here's the study abstract
- read the announcement