4 ways hospitals are addressing patient satisfaction problems

Medicare began requiring hospitals to compile and report information about patient satisfaction (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey) in 2007 and this information has become an increasingly important barometer for hospitals to maintain market share and avoid reimbursement losses.

A recent article from Kaiser Health News looked at some of things hospitals are doing to improve this key metric.

  1. The University of Missouri Health System created a “live simulation center” at its medical school in Columbia to help physicians learn to better communicate with patients. The simulation includes the use of paid actors to play the roll of patients in doctor-patient encounters that go well beyond the simple act of providing a patient with a diagnosis. In 2013, 78 percent of patients surveyed at the hospital said that doctors there always communicated well—a 10 percent increase from 2007.
  2. At Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, patient satisfaction scores have increased due in part to the use of a psychological screening for hiring that requires nurses and other staff to go through behavior screening tests. They are also required to be interviewed by fellow (prospective) staffers, and go through a rigorous job review every six months.
  3. Novant Health, a nonprofit system that operates hospitals in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, has had a particularly tough time with the issue of patient satisfaction at Rowan Medical Center—to the point it will suffer reimbursement losses in 2015. Now the hospital is making a concerted effort to coach doctors and nurses on their bedside manners and to encourage nurses to spend at least 70 percent of their time with patients.
  4. Rowan’s experience contrasts with that of another Novant Hospital, Medical Park Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C, which has the best patient satisfaction scores in the Novant System. In the Kaiser Health News article, Sean Keyser, Novant's vice president for patient experience, suggested that the collegial relationship between physicians and nurses at Medical Park has translated into better relations with patients.

Read the Kaiser Health News article.