Article Date: 5/1/2009

How Would Your Staff Be Graded?
staffing solutions

How Would Your Staff Be Graded?

A new patient survey measures outcomes as well as processes.

BY BOB LEVOY, O.D.

The results of a new patient satisfaction survey, which measures both processes and outcomes, will surely impact all healthcare providers.

It's known as HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), a survey designed to be a standardized tool for measuring patients' perspectives of hospital care. It is supported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and endorsed by the National Quality Forum, which represents the consensus of many healthcare providers, as well as consumer, professional, government and research organizations.

HCAHPS and optometry

What makes this survey of special interest to optometrists is that it measures satisfaction (or lack of it) on a surprising choice of topics. Among the 27 questions are the following, which are to be answered never, sometimes, usually or always. (The underlined words appear as such in the survey, which emphasizes their importance).

► During this hospital stay, how often did nurses treat you with courtesy and respect?

► During this hospital stay, how often did nurses listen carefully to you?

► During this hospital stay, how often did nurses explain things in a way you could understand?

► During this hospital stay, did doctors treat you with courtesy and respect?

► During this hospital stay, how often did the doctors listen carefully to you?

► During this hospital stay, how often did the doctors explain things in a way you could understand?

Are you surprised by the emphasis on courtesy, listening and communication skills and by the nurse's role in patient satisfaction?

HCAHPS provides consumers with information that can be helpful in choosing a hospital. Results are posted on the Hospital Compare Web site found at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov.

How would you and your staff be graded in such a survey?

The last two questions follow:

► Using any number from 0 to 10, where 0 is the worst hospital possible and 10 is the best hospital possible, what number would you use to rate this hospital during your stay?

► Would you recommend this hospital to your friends and family?

How would your practice fare in such an evaluation?

Reality check: Recognize that perceptions of quality differ among patients and healthcare providers. Healthcare professionals link quality to treatment outcomes. However, "in the minds of patients, quality is about the experience. They expect the clinical outcomes; they want a good experience," says Lori Bruss, executive vice president of the Roberts Group, a healthcare marketing and communications firm in Waukesha, Wis.

As transparency continues to be a hot topic, consumers will take notice of data that specifically address patient satisfaction. Expect charts and graphs in every local newspaper depicting the relative scores for area hospitals. As a result, patients will become increasingly conscious of — and concerned about — the way they are spoken to and treated by healthcare professionals.

Action steps: Meet with staff to discuss the ground rules for treating patients with courtesy and respect. Practice active (vs. passive) listening with each other. Develop guidelines for explaining the things (you explain everyday to patients) in terms that are "easily understood." OM


BOB LEVOY'S NEWEST BOOK "222 SECRETS OF HIRING, MANAGING AND RETAINING GREAT EMPLOYEES IN HEALTHCARE PRACTICES" WAS PUBLISHED BY JONES & BARTLETT PUBLISHERS. YOU CAN REACH HIM BY E-MAIL AT B.LEVOY@ATT.NET.

Optometric Management, Issue: May 2009