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How Grumpy Patients Can Cost Hospitals Big Bucks

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 20, 2011

"It's a ridiculous argument," he says. "When Toyota is giving out customer satisfaction bonuses to auto dealerships around the country, do you think they give a better break to the guys in Kansas? No.

"Maybe the folks in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania just need to work harder," he says. "It's about time that if people in hospitals don't satisfy patients, and don't provide the best science in medicine to those patients, they should have some sort of consequence."

Jason Rau, president of NRC Picker in Lincoln, NE, another healthcare survey company similar to Press Ganey with about 700 hospitals, says he can't comment on whether a 30% weight is fair across the country, but he acknowledges that there are regional differences in the way patients answer questions. But whether it makes that much of a difference is unclear.

Besides, he says, CMS is already making some demographic and patient mix adjustments in how value based purchasing scores are weighted. It bears some looking into, he says. But "in the end, maybe services provided really are different."

Jessica Kennedy, also of NRC Picker, posted this comment to our Monday story about the hospitals' concern.

"This article may be asking the wrong question," Kennedy wrote.

"Maybe the experience of care patients have is different depending on what institution they're in or where they live. So perhaps this is not a question of patients being grumpy... Perhaps it is a question that we in healthcare are not equally committed or able to provide patient experiences that meet the expectations of our patients and their families."

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2 comments on "How Grumpy Patients Can Cost Hospitals Big Bucks"


Jean Budding (2/4/2011 at 2:07 PM)
I agree with Nate Kaufman. Iowa hospitals have been paid unfairly. -Tweener hospitals are reimbursed lower than most hospitals in the nation. The big states didn't care when our reimbursement was 65% of cost. We have great patient scores. And, based on personal experience in Arizona, we have excellent care.

Richard Buchler (1/25/2011 at 5:12 PM)
We have to be careful that we don't make decisions based on opinions versus facts. The only fact in this story is that hospitals in these regions receive lower scores on patient satisfaction. There may be a large population of inherently unhappy people in these regions, but nothing in the original Press Ganey report nor this article supports that conclusion. It is just as likely that those hospitals provide care that is less satisfying to patients than hospitals in the rest of the country.