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The ROI of Patient Experience

News  |  By Debra Shute  
   August 01, 2017

The Cleveland Clinic is known for prioritizing patient experience, particularly around relationship-centered communication. Experts explain how this philosophy makes not just moral but financial sense.

Hospitals and providers are more aware than ever that communication and empathy can make all the difference in how a person feels about a hospital stay or medical encounter.

But with competing priorities such as patient safety, quality, and other elements that visibly impact the bottom line, the 'why' for investing in patient experience can be a tough sell. Experts from the Cleveland Clinic note the following ways doing the right thing translates to dollars.

Payers Are Keeping Score

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services began tying Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores to hospital reimbursement in 2012.

While the penalties for sub-par performances have increased slowly, the dollars now are substantial. As of this year, HCAHPS scores determine up to 2% of a hospital or health system's Medicare payments.

"The risk for not giving patients a good experience financially now becomes very high, so hospitals or practices that don't stand behind the fact that we need to take care of our patients both behaviorally and clinically stand to lose a significant amount of money," says Lori Kondas, MBA, senior director for the office of patient experience at the Cleveland Clinic.

There are several other ways patient experience indirectly, but cumulatively influences the bottom line, adds Joshua Miller, DO, the Cleveland Clinic's vice president for regional family health center operations.

The industry's shift toward value-based care is only one.

"We'll sit down with our doctors and say, 'We really care about this.' We'll talk about narrow networks, how [payers] will drop physicians and things of that nature potentially on scores, so we need to start paying attention to it now or we're going to pay later because of it, either from a malpractice suit or other financial consequence," Miller says.

Consumerism Is King

Meanwhile, the healthcare industry must also accept being in the midst of the age of consumerism, adds Kondas.

Debra Shute is the Senior Physicians Editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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