Press Ganey report links patient experience and patient safety

Safety, quality and patient experience are the three key elements of a value-based, patient-centered model of care, but providers looking to truly succeed in the value-based arena need to look at how those three parts fit together.

Press Ganey’s annual “Strategic Insights” report, released this morning, examined patient experience scores, care quality data and other measures and found a direct link between patient experience and safety. Health systems in the highest quartile for patient engagement scores on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) also had higher net margins, lower spending in the first 30 days of care and higher payouts per beneficiary.

“Finance is often the most important healthcare issue. … But what this demonstrates clearly is that when you focus on the right things for patients, you’re not only improving the delivery of care and meeting needs, you’re actually doing it in a more cost economical way,” James Merlino, M.D., president and chief medical officer of Press Ganey’s strategic consulting division, told FierceHealthcare.

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Merlino said the findings in the report are especially valuable for providers because they touch on all levels of operation.

Chief financial officers, for instance, may be focused on the bottom line by the nature of their jobs, but the findings emphasize that if they put effort into supporting patient engagement or clinical quality programs it benefits their area of focus as well.

It’s a “rallying cry” for how these different aspects fit together, he said.

The essential element to bringing this all together is workforce engagement, according to the report. Staff members should be active participants in safety initiatives, and leaders should emphasize a culture of safety within the organization. To effectively do this, Merlino said, it’s important that safety is made a priority and that safety data and records of adverse events are made transparent internally.

“One of the things you find when you go to healthcare organizations is many times managers don’t know what the data is,” he said. But when they have access to data, it can be used as “a tool to help their people understand what’s going on in the environment.”

The report also drives home the fact that providing compassionate, quality care for patients—the very reason many people go into medicine in the first place—is one of the most important drivers of the switch to value-based care.