Reform raises stakes for patient satisfaction

Press Ganey's newly released rankings of medical specialties by patient satisfaction scores currently represent a tool that physicians and practices can use to gauge their relative performance. In this instance, medical and gynecological oncologists, along with family medicine physicians, will be pleased to know that they made the top-10 list for highest overall patient satisfaction scores among organizations that hired the firm to survey their patients.

Those in the healthcare industry have long used this, and similar survey instruments, to gain insights into how they could be better serving their patients' needs. In some instances, patient satisfaction scores are tied into physicians' compensation. Some organizations even share individual physicians' scores among other doctors in the group; but this information generally is never made available for public consumption.

That's all about to change, as Medicare will be required under health reform to publish "an assessment of patient experience and patient, caregiver and family engagement" on its Physician Compare website by Jan. 1, 2013. What's more, experts say Medicare is likely to integrate that measurement of patient experience into a pay formula for physicians by 2015, according to American Medical News.

This substantially raises the stakes regarding practices' patient satisfaction scores, making now a critical time to use that feedback to make improvements that will ultimately affect patients' choices and even how you are reimbursed.

If you don't already measure patient satisfaction, use these tips to get cracking:

  • Consider whether it's in your budget to hire a vendor such as Press Ganey or Sullivan Luallin to conduct your survey and analyze results. Some companies will compare your results against national benchmark data.
  • If the answer is no, write your own survey using HHS' Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Clinician & Group (CG-CAHPS) survey as a guide.
  • Whether you are using a paper or electronic format, make the survey as brief and convenient as possible for patients.

To learn more:
- read the article from American Medical News
- see the press release from Press Ganey