Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) is the national standardized tool used to measure adult in patient impatient perception of the quality of care they receive at a given acute care hospital. Since 2007 most hospitals have been required to submit HCAHPS results in order to receive full Medicare payment. In the future HCAHPS will play an even larger role in reimbursement.
Hospital administrators across the country are focusing on how to improve these results. According to a Stouder Group Perspective Report (The Age of HCAHPS) here are four key factors that make HCAHPS very significant:
- HCAHPS provides accurate “apples to apples” metrics.
Essentially, HCAHPS creates a level playing field. It allows hospitals to see how they really stack up against the competition in the eyes of patients. And because strict guidelines must be followed in administering the survey, the comparisons are as fair and accurate as possible.
- Results are tied to quality and clinical outcomes.
In the past, critics of measuring patient satisfaction have deemed the concept too subjective and “soft.” The rise of HCAHPS eliminates these concerns. The survey zeroes in on issues that directly impact core clinical quality. For instance, there are questions addressing pain management, medication instructions, and discharge information. This method of measurement helps hospitals identify gaps in their own processes and procedures so they can work to improve in these areas. Remember, a wealth of “always” responses gets organizations ranked highly on the HCAHPS reporting website. Since quality care is what everyone in healthcare will be ultimately judged by—and compensated for—the fact that HCAHPS drives organizations to strive for a “culture of always” can’t be underestimated.
- It gives consumers an easy way to compare hospitals.
In the past, if an organization received unfavorable patient satisfaction results, it simply didn’t publicize them. Problem solved. With HCAHPS, however, it’s a different story. Consumers need only to log on to www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov to see how a hospital measures up to its competitors—locally, regionally, and nationally. As the public becomes more aware of HCAHPS reporting, consumers may gravitate toward hospitals with the highest scores. And while it’s true that many people are unlikely to visit the website themselves, they won’t have to: the local media is almost certain to do the legwork for them.
- HCAHPS pay-for-performance is coming.
Since 2007 most hospitals have been required to submit HCAHPS results in order to receive full Medicare payment. In in the future, HCAHPS will play an even larger role in reimbursement. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law last March, establishes a Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) plan beginning in FY2013 (based on hospitals’ performance in 2012 on measures that are part of the hospital quality reporting program). This will transition providers from HCAHPS pay-for-reporting to HCAHPS pay-for-performance. Also beginning in 2013: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will impose financial penalties on what it deems “excess admissions” compared to expected levels for 30-day readmissions for heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia patients.
All of this means that there is no time to waste. Hospitals must take steps now to ensure that they are delivering exceptional quality care right now. When used effectively HCAHPS results can help your hospital improve the quality and clinical outcomes because these results shine a spotlight on who is getting it right. Be sure to check out the Stouder Group’s report and see how their evidence-based leadership tools and tactics can help your hospital.