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AutoData Systems > HCAHPS

Is there a difference between patient satisfaction and patient experience?

If so, how should both be measured?

“Patient experience and satisfaction is the No. 1 priority for healthcare executives, according to the HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey 2013—above clinical quality, cost reduction, and many other burning issues.”

In the constantly evolving healthcare landscape, one thing is clear: delivering quality care is paramount. As the above quote suggests, patient experience and patient satisfaction are coveted key indicators of delivering quality care. The quote – from an article in HealthLeaders magazine, found here – goes on to explain why patient satisfaction and experience is the number one priority for healthcare execs:

“With the emergence and acceleration of both Medicare-approved and commercial accountable care organizations, there is a new sense of urgency for some health systems to improve their patient experience, particularly because it is one of 33 benchmarks Medicare-approved ACOs have to meet in order to qualify for the incentive payment.”

The quotes provoke a few interesting thoughts. The obvious one is that patient satisfaction and experience have never been more important. Yet, another thought begs the question: is there a difference between patient satisfaction and patient experience? Although closely related, there are certainly a few nuances differentiating the two.

Hospitals have the well-known HCAHPS – a core set of pre-determined survey questions – that they rely on to measure patient satisfaction. HCAHPS has proved successful at measuring patient satisfaction but it doesn’t necessarily get to the heart of patient experience. “Patient satisfaction and experience are closely tied together, but they are not the same,” says Press Ganey CEO, Patrick Ryan. Ryan goes on to explain:

“‘It [patient experience] is much more than just patient satisfaction,’ he says. ‘The confusion that some folks come into the industry with is that patient satisfaction is about keeping people happy, but it couldn’t be further from that because when people enter the health system, they’re coming in at one of the most complex and stressful times in their life. And what they want most from the experience is communication and understanding of what their condition is, the path to the best possible health they can achieve, and a way in which to coordinate that with their clinicians and staff to ensure that they get there.”

While HCAHPS’s standardized questions work for measuring patient satisfaction, measuring patient experience doesn’t work with one uniform set of questions. It requires multiple surveys with a variety of questions attempting to measure a variety of different topics and experiences – something that HCAHPS doesn’t do. The best way to find out if a patient is experiencing good communication from nurses and doctors or whether the patient fully understands her condition is not with a standardized 32 question survey. Those types of experiences are best measured with specific, detailed questions in the context of each situation.  “Real change begins to happen when physicians, nurses, and staff hear the voice of the customer, the voice of the patient,” Kevin Gwin – VP of communications for Ardent Health Services – is quoted saying in the article, “and you’ll have incremental improvement that turns into transformational change.”

In order for a hospital to take incremental improvement and turn it into transformational change, they must understand the difference between patient satisfaction and patient experience. Perhaps more importantly, they must understand the difference in measuring the two. In the end,  greater patient experience will translate into greater patient satisfaction which in turn will lead to a higher HCAHPS score.

The New Importance of Measuring Patient Care

Another day, another article on the importance of measuring patient care in a post-Affordable Care Act world (It pays for hospitals to keep patients happy, Seattle Times, see link below).

As discussed in our last post, federal reimbursements are being tied not only to surveys that measure a patient’s care, but also their experience. In an attempt to improve the patient’s experience, everything from a patient’s overall care to hospital noise and cleanliness are measured. The better the patient’s experience, the more money is received in reimbursements, or so the logic goes.

But measuring specific aspects of patient care is easier said than done. For example, perhaps your hospital implements – or contracts someone to implement – your HCAHPS surveys. Or perhaps the same goes for your AHRQ Medical Office Survey. Or perhaps the same goes for any other myriad of standardized surveys your hospital might use. While administering all of those different surveys is important, there are two inherent problems: 1) too many moving parts when trying to implement multiple different surveys all collecting different kinds of data 2) the standardized surveys don’t necessarily cover all of the topics you wish to measure (i.e. hospital noise and cleanliness).

The severity of the first problem depends on the hospital’s processes. If you’re reading this, you’re likely well aware of the issues that arise in administering multiple standardized surveys. For example, dealing with third party contractors who write, administer, and report on different surveys creates red tape and removes the care provider further away from the process of measuring care. Also, the data collected from all these different surveys is unorganized, hard to manage, and doesn’t flow.

Second, the standardized surveys don’t allow you the flexibility to ask the questions you want to ask. As the Seattle Times article suggests, hospitals need the ability to measure all sorts of different patient attitudes and experiences; how the hospital communicates to the patient, how the hospital serves the patient, how they address the patient’s pain, and so on.

Because of these two problems, standardized surveys and the third party vendors who administer them can’t touch on the important level of detail needed to ask the right questions. The measurement of care should be administered by those closest to the patients, the ones providing the care.

So what am I getting at?

The ability to custom tailor surveys so that every detail about a patient’s experience is measured. The flexibility and autonomy necessary to create surveys that ask the questions your organization wants to ask. The ability to have all of your data in one spot. This is what AutoData does for its customers. AutoData’s software gives you the in-house tools to be in full control of your surveys and your data, giving you the ability to better measure your care and improve your care.

Please contact us for more information on how we can help.

 

(Seattle Times article below)

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2021593747_healthpatientsxml.html