Innovating to Improve Patient Satisfaction Scores

July 14, 2016

An innovative nine-year old patient is proof there are outside-the-box ways to improve patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Although not new, the HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey is a standardized and publically available survey, which enables patients to rank the overall quality of care. Additional incentive for acute-care hospitals to participate in HCAHPS were created with the enactment of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. Beginning in July 2007, hospitals subject to the Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) annual payment update provisions ("subsection (d) hospitals"), in order to receive their full IPPS annual payment update were required to collect and submit HCAHPS data. In order to avoid an annual payment update reduction of two percentage points, IPPS hospitals shall publicly report the required quality measures, including the HCAHPS survey. Later, Affordable Care Act (P.L. 111-148) emphasized the importance of HCAHPS and included it among the measures utilized to calculate value-based incentive payments in the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program. Now, with the implementation of Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), which includes Merit-Based Incentive Payment System and Alternative Payment Models, as well as increase in physicians employed by hospitals and healthcare systems, providers need to look for new ways to provide patient-centered care.

One way to change the experience is to change perception. As a nine-year-old, Luke Lange was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma. His own journey took him through a variety of treatments, including chemotherapy. Like many patients, Luke did not like wearing a hospital gown because it “make him feel more sick.” So, he came up with the idea of a shirt with snaps, which he began to wear. To the delight of the staff and other patients, there was finally an alternative to the hospital gown!

After speaking with a prominent children’s hospital, we both reached the conclusion, based upon the experiences of Luke and others, that utilizing this shirt and having patients feel better about themselves while going through the process of curing a serious disease could have a positive impact on outcome scores - both clinically and financially.

In essence, what Luke did encompasses the focus of patient-centered care. From my perspective, it is important for providers to appreciate that it is important to treat the “whole person.” In turn, there are many positive benefits to be gained for the patient, the families and the providers. For more information on Luke’s Fastbreaks, as well as resources for cancer patients and their families, please go to http://www.lukesfastbreaks.com/.