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Prepare yourself, HCAHPS are here

December 17, 2015


“They’re here . . . “

describe the image
Just in time for Halloween, like a poltergeist:
HCAHPS . . . and they can be scary.

From a summary in FierceHealthcare:

Starting this week, Medicare is basing hospital reimbursements on performance measures, with patient satisfaction determining 30 percent of the incentive payments and improved clinical outcomes deciding 70 percent.

The HCAHPS program (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Service) is forcing hospitals to look at every possible strategy to improve the patient experience. Hospitals are focusing on technology, like EMR, that improves standardization and quality of care, and on processes intended to improve the patient experience. What most of these discussions miss, however, is the important role of talent and selection.

Also from the FierceHealthcare article, one administrator hits the nail on the head:
Jeremy Tucker medical director of MedStar St. Mary's Hospital in Leonardtown, Md., told FieceHealthcare that better patient experience comes from cultural change and not simply a series of initiatives. "If the reason for doing patient experience is simply to get a better score on a test, you will fail," he said.

And that cultural change must take place at all levels of the organization, as "it only takes one cold meal tray or a roll of the eyes by a staff member to derail the patient experience," Tucker warned.

Effective employee selection strategies can improve the patient experience. Selecting employees at every level who are more likely to be patient and quality focused, conscientious, have attention to detail and demonstrate empathy, is as important as any patient satisfaction strategy or process improvement plan.

It takes a team to provide quality care – RNs, physicians, housekeepers, dietary, managers and volunteers. It just takes one individual, one patient interaction, to turn a positive patient perception to a negative one. Training plays a role but the reality is that some people are more likely than others to provide the type of patient experience you need under the HCAHPS program. It only makes sense to start with as many of these people as possible – and to quickly eliminate those who are highly unlikely to demonstrate the required behaviors.

• What are you doing to ensure that your hiring process focuses on people with these attributes?
• What are you doing to make promotion decisions based on solid data about an employee’s potential to manage and lead in a manner consistent with your mission and vision?
• Don’t forget about physicians. Particularly as hospitals add more employed physicians, you have an opportunity to select physicians who fit your culture and to educate them on the importance of the patient experience.

With the right raw material (people), HCAHPS may not be quite as scary. Check out our new eBook on selection strategies in healthcare.

Selection Strategies in Healthcare


Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.