Hospitals that used a comprehensive approach to measuring their patients' experience saw better clinical outcomes and brand recognition than their peers that only used federal survey requirements, according to a new analysis.
While the CMS' Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey is a valuable tool in assessing and improving care quality, patient experience management firm Service Management Group said healthcare organizations that establish their own measurement strategies were more likely to see improvement. Their indicators included consumer loyalty, community reputation, employee retention and clinical outcomes.
"We're seeing cultural shifts at organizations," said Paul Tiedt, senior vice president of research at SMG. "Organizations with patient experience programs are more likely to have more of the organization buy-in, and when you have a wider net of people involved more people are in tuned with the program and how to execute on it."
SMG surveyed more than 1,500 healthcare professionals from 34 countries. They found that 45% of respondents relied on more tools than just HCAHPS to measure patient experience. Nearly a quarter of respondents only used HCAHPS survey results.
Hospitals have been required to provide patients with the HCAHPS survey since 2007 in order to participate in Medicare.
While some providers previously saw HCAHPS as a regulatory requirement, more are developing programs to manage patient experience as the healthcare industry shifts toward a more consumer-centric focus.
The CMS has heard calls to update the information and way HCAHPS information is collected. Currently, patients must fill out either a paper questionnaire or answer questions over the phone.
Tiedt said hospitals focused solely on HCAHPS may miss key aspects of the patient experience, which goes beyond the clinical setting into areas like billing and engaging in online offerings.
Providers should have a point person who manages and assess patient experience full-time, which many health systems have translated into hiring a chief experience officer, he said.
"Organizations need dedicated leadership to drive change," Tiedt said. "Measurement alone doesn't improve your processes."