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Show, Don't Tell Patient Experience

Anna Webster, for HealthLeaders Media, August 10, 2011

A couple months ago, one of my family members was in the hospital recuperating from back surgery. Although I wanted to visit, I stayed away so she could get  some rest, because she was awakened almost hourly for check-ups.

Though her experience in the hospital was long and resulted in some complications, when I met up with her weeks after her discharge, she was still texting the nurses she had befriended during her stay.

This got me thinking about patient experience and how little details like keeping the lights off while checking on a sleeping patient can transform grumpy patients into grateful patients.

From a financial standpoint, patient experience is gaining importance as a measure of quality. The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey scores  will soon be directly tied to financial  incentives for hospitals and health facilities.

How patients answer 17 questions posed in Medicare's HCAHPS survey determines 30% of each hospital's score and a chance to receive a share of $850 million that will be deducted from Medicare's payments to 3,500 hospitals in FY 2013.

The trickledown effect for marketers creates pressure to reflect a positive and relatable patient experience in campaign messages.

Alabama-based Jacksonville Medical Center (JMC) is trying to do just that. Though the 89-bed hospital is ranked number one hospital for patient satisfaction for North Calhoun County, its recognition in the community is small, based on community survey data.

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3 comments on "Show, Don't Tell Patient Experience"


stephen.mcclure (8/11/2011 at 10:58 AM)
HCAHPS presents an opportunity for improvement as well as a challenge. HealthStream helps many of our customers understand their HCAHPS scores and find ways to raise them. Learn more about our HCAHPS expertise at: http://www.healthstream.com/solutions/improve-your-HCAHPS-scores.aspx

Steve Wilkins (8/10/2011 at 7:16 PM)
The "patient experience" for most hospitals begins with patients visiting one of their employed or non-employed physicians. People visit their primary care physicians 10 times as often as they visit a hospital ER or Inpatient unit. So what kind of "experience" are patients having in your primary care physicians' offices? For a glimpse - download a free white paper on the subject at: http://healthecommunications.wordpress.com/white-paper/ Steve Wilkins

Beth Wright (8/10/2011 at 5:07 PM)
Thanks for including Jacksonville Medical Center in your column, Anna! The staff there does an outstanding job. While their initial marketing campaign efforts didn't immediately impact the community, it did have an immediate impact on both employee satisfaction and physician and staff recruitment. And as the hospital highlights patients' experiences in the second phase of their campaign, the communication will be even more effective. As you know, it takes a significant investment of time, energy and resources to change community perception.