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HCAHPS Scores Show Wide Variation

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, May 30, 2012

By one measure of quality, 52-bed Westlake Regional Hospital in Columbia, KY seems to have more patients who are extremely pleased with their care than any other hospital in the country that garnered 300 or more responses to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (HCAHPS) survey.

That is, 98% of Westlake's patients said they would definitely recommend the hospital to family and friends and only 1% said they would probably or definitely not recommend Westlake, according to the May 17 update on the federal government's Hospital Compare web site.

That's much higher than the 70% national average and the 70% that  Kentucky averages for patients responding to the question.

Some argue that responses to the "would you recommend" questions are not the best to gauge the quality of a patient's experience; that responses are influenced more by a hospital's community reputation rather than how a specific patient perceived his or her treatment.

Better measures of patients' perceived experiences might be found in their replies to other questions, such as whether doctors or nurses communicated well with them during their stay and how their pain was prevented.

That may be so, but by all other measures on the HCAHPS survey, Westlake scored exceptionally high.

For example:

  • 82% gave it the highest ranking of 9 or 10;
  • 96% said the room was always clean;
  • 98% of doctors and 100% of nurses "always" communicated well with their patients;
  • 97% said their pain was always well-controlled
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2 comments on "HCAHPS Scores Show Wide Variation"


Linda Reiser (6/25/2012 at 3:57 PM)
I just read the article about HCAHPS which described the high and low scoring hospitals around the country. There was a quote which was a little disturbing. One of the rules surrounding HCAHPS says that hospitals should not in any way try to influence the scores. This includes using the language such as "always" which is the response we all want the patients to give! At Lehigh, a comment from CEO Joanie Jeannette is posted on the Lehigh's website: "We want to make sure that you are extremely satisfied with the care you receive. If at any time you are not satisfied with your care, please let us know. All of our staff is committed to achieving your standards of excellence. "Following your stay with us, you may receive a survey in the mail asking for your feedback. I hope you will take a few minutes to fill it out and let us know how we are doing. Again, it is both an honor and a privilege to serve you and we want to make sure we provide you and your family the very best of care... Always." We are told we should not use such language in order to be non-influential in the scoring. Does anyone else think this is influencing the responses unfairly?

Ardella Eagle (5/31/2012 at 9:51 AM)
As the CMMS swings over to using HCAHPS as a sliderule for payment reductions as suggested in the Affordable Care Act, you will see many of these 'demographically' challenged hospitals close down due to the inability to make ends meet. A very sad thing indeed. Using the general public as a measure on whether a provider should be paid is not a good idea. Pay for services rendered. Research if the service provided is being billed at a comprable rate and penalize the providers who are 'overcharging'. The current system of the fee schedule encourages physicians to bill the maximum allowed knowing that their fees will be reduced, then further cut due to contractual agreements.