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Compassionate Nursing Care Linked to Higher HCAHPS Scores

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   February 24, 2015

A framework for compassionately connecting with patients is likely to ease patients' suffering and to lift HCAHPS scores, clinical quality measures, and reimbursements.

Fifty-six seconds.

That's how long it takes to make a connection with a patient. It could be something as simple as asking about her family, whether she has any pets, or what she likes to do when she's not stuck in the hospital.

The patient might talk about just one thing during those 56 seconds, but anything she says can be built upon throughout the course of her hospital stay. As a result, she patient feels more in control, acknowledged, and is likely to give her healthcare provider more information, allowing for better care.

Christy Dempsey

HCAHPS scores, clinical quality measures, and reimbursements are likely to rise. All because of a 56-second effort to make a personal connection.

A report from consulting firm Press Ganey, "Compassionate Connected Care: A Care Model to Reduce Patient Suffering," details the firm's model for connecting with patients. First and foremost, connecting with patients and improving care requires acknowledging that patients are, indeed, suffering.

"We started talking about suffering a couple of years ago. The word suffering is emotional; it doesn't feel good, and certainly, as a nurse, it's a call to action," says Christy Dempsey, Press Ganey's CNO. "We needed to have an action to help our organizations to reduce suffering, and that's where Compassionate Connected Care came from. It's a framework to help to reduce suffering."

Although all healthcare providers should aim to provide this kind of care, nurses have always treated the whole person and provided holistic care.

"That's why I think this is really resonating with nursing leaders," Dempsey says.

The Compassionate Connected Care framework includes six main themes. Within those themes are actions that healthcare providers can implement immediately, and others that will take more time and effort.

But doing so pays off. Dempsey points to a nursing unit at one hospital in Missouri which saw its HCAHPS score rise from the 50% to 90% percentile after piloting some of these tenets.

"There are things in each one of these tenets that [providers] could do this afternoon that would improve the patient experience," Dempsey says. "There are things that you can do today and build from."

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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