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Higher Readmission Penalties Linked to Low HCAHPS Scores

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, December 12, 2012

"The patient is really engaged and has multiple opportunities to ask questions and understands what is expected of the patient upon discharge and what their individual responsibilities are," Buhlman says.

"Traditionally, the sphere of influence for hospitals was what happened on the campus and the walls of the hospital."

"When you have a leadership culture at the top that puts the patient experience as a top priority, that focuses on all the details of the patient experience, and as a result you're a high performing organization, the performance crosses the continuum...whether it's clinical, safety, patient experience, or even financial performance...they're at the higher end of the benchmarks of your peers, because you put the patient first," Ryan says.

With new components being added into the VBP measurement algorithm, "you see an efficiency of care domain that reflects spending per Medicare beneficiary from three days prior to admission to 30-days post discharge, so very much reflecting beyond the traditional sphere of influence within the hospital and the same is true with 30-day readmissions," she says.

The study also found that hourly rounding by nursing staff seems to be "the single most effective strategy for improving performance in patient experience."


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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2 comments on "Higher Readmission Penalties Linked to Low HCAHPS Scores"


Michael Solomon, Ph.D. (1/24/2013 at 3:57 PM)
Recognizing that patient satisfaction may be a factor in helping patients avoid returning to the hospital is a good starting point, but the emphasis on HCAHPS diverts attention from the more important goal of having patients who are actively engaged in managing their health and healthcare post-discharge. Providing a patient with a discharge summary and education materials about his or her condition and helping a patient comply with having a physician exam post-discharge are practices shown to be related with reduced readmissions. Except for the patient-provider communications item, the HCAHPS does not measure these important indicators of actively engaged patients. Programs to reduce preventable readmissions should move beyond satisfied to actively engaged patients. A reliable and valid measure of patient activation, known as the PAM-13 exists. Interventions such as web-based self-management tools have been shown to increase patient activation.

Steve Wilkins (12/13/2012 at 11:37 AM)
Correlation is not the same as causality. The conclusions drawn linking patient experience (as nebulously defined by HCAHPS) to reduced hospital readmissions sure seems like a big reach to me. Steve Wilkins, MPH Mind the Gap www.healthecommunications.wordpress.com