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Don't Let Nurses Sink Your Bottom Line

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, May 21, 2013

Because higher patient satisfaction scores translate to higher Medicare reimbursements, how nurses interact and talk with patients has a demonstrable and significant impact on a hospital's bottom line.

When a patient in pain cries for help, it's almost always a nurse who responds. But how swiftly that response comes and how effectively the interaction that follows satisfies the patient's needs has repercussions far beyond the bedside.

The way nurses interact and talk with their patients could have an impact on a hospital's bottom line, concludes a new study. It finds that how hospitals perform on the "communication with nurses" dimension of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey strongly influences several other "Patient Experience of Care" dimensions.

And as we all know, higher patient satisfaction = higher reimbursements.

Here's a refresher about the areas in which patients rate their care within HCAHPS [PDF]:

  • Communication with doctors
  • Communication with nurses
  • Responsiveness of hospital staff
  • Pain management
  • Communication about medication
  • Cleanliness/quietness of hospital environment
  • Discharge information
  • Overall hospital rating

The Press Ganey study aimed to find out which of these measures influenced each other. Researchers used data from a sample of 3,062 acute care hospitals to conduct what's called a "hierarchical variable clustering analysis" on the HCAHPS dimensions. This analysis identifies multiple measures that are consistently grouped together and pinpoints which measures lead the others.

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7 comments on "Don't Let Nurses Sink Your Bottom Line"


Nora O'Neill (5/24/2013 at 2:19 PM)
I appreciate the other comments recommending a broader view of influencing factors on a patient's experience within a hospital. I'm very uncomfortable with the title of this article as it is laden with negative connotations. Many, if not most, nurses prefer to have a strong rapport with patients & families. Healthcare is in the midst of an overhaul due to faulty systems. Be global in your view, please.

Lisa S. (5/24/2013 at 9:07 AM)
I agree with Lisa's comments. Organizations must create environments to fully engage patients in ways that contribute to overall quality. We have been lured into believing patient satisfaction scores are indicators of quality care, and go so far as to reimburse based on satisfaction scores. Studies do not positively correlate patient satisfaction scores with quality outcomes. If reimbursement depends on patient satisfaction, the satisfaction rating tools need to more closely align with quality indicators.

corelibrary (5/23/2013 at 12:39 PM)
I am not sure I like the title to this article. "It takes a village to care for one patient" and nurses are not the bottom line for pain alleviation[INVALID]they need a medical order for medication from the MD. The team approach with open communication should be fostered and collaboration and efficiency to care.