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Analysis

Link Between Improved HCAHPS Scores and Process Improvement Methodologies

By Jonathan Bees  
   September 21, 2017

A greater share of organizations that use process improvement methodologies than those who do not say they have seen major improvement in HCAHPS scores or other patient experience performance measurements.

One of the key tenets of process improvement is the need to track and measure performance, bringing to mind the adage that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.

However, the challenge for providers is not necessarily measuring patient experience performance, it is gaining access to timely data.

In spite of that goal, respondents in the 2017 HealthLeaders Media Patient Experience Survey say that HCAHPS or other CMS survey (78%) is the top tracking method for patient experience activity, followed by postdischarge phone calls (61%) and third-party survey service (non-CMS) (50%).

Certainly, the need for acquiring timely patient experience data is behind respondents’ growing use of social media monitoring (45%)—note that this year’s response is up six percentage points over last year’s survey.

It is perhaps not surprising that a greater share of organizations that use process improvement methodologies (87%) than those who do not (58%) mention HCAHPS or other CMS survey as the method they use to track and measure the success or failure of their organization’s patient experience activity.

In fact, nearly all responses for tracking methods are higher for respondent organizations that use process improvement methodologies compared with those who do not—the one exception is in-house survey activity (non-CMS)—an indication of the level of emphasis that process improvement places on metrics and performance measurement.

The good news for providers and patients alike is that nearly all respondents (87%) in the survey report that their organization has seen improvement in HCAHPS scores or other patient experience performance measurements, indicating that progress is being made in response to their efforts.

The survey results are: 13% say they have seen major improvement, 44% moderate improvement, and 30% minor improvement. Only 5% say they have seen no improvement.

Note that the results reveal that there is a correlation between the use of process improvement methodologies and patient experience performance improvement.

For example, a greater share of organizations that use process improvement methodologies (16%) than those who do not (6%) say they have seen major improvement in HCAHPS scores or other patient experience performance measurements, and a greater share of organizations that use process improvement methodologies (47%) than those who do not (36%) say they have seen moderate improvement.

Conversely, a greater share of organizations that do not use process improvement methodologies (10%) than those who do (3%) say they have seen no improvement.

Jonathan Bees is a research analyst for HealthLeaders.


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