The age old adage "the customer is always right" couldn't be more truthful than now for those whose jobs consist of balancing hospital budgets. Big picture, with the transitional changes we as patients and providers are experiencing due to healthcare reform, none seem to be as impactful as pressure surrounding hospital reimbursements.
It's expected that morally, hospitals have been trying for years to provide high quality care and enhanced experiences to those they are serving, and now as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid is tying reimbursements to HCAHPS scores, these morals will appear out on the table for all to see.
So how does a hospital specifically address enhancing the patient experience and where does it even start? According to Jason Scott, Director of Imaging, Cardiac Diagnostics, Pulmonary and Neurodiagnostics at Witham Health Services, it's all about AIDET - Acknowledge, Introduce, Duration, Explain and Thank You.
Duration is mentioned frequently as a way that hospitals can improve patient satisfaction. We've all seen the hospital websites that post the "wait time" patients can expect if coming to that facility and this all makes sense. How many of us have shown up on time for an appointment, which is sometimes a feat in itself, and then have waited to be seen by the doctor? According to Forbes, striving to deliver service on the schedule of your patient, not just a schedule that happens to be convenient for your institution is listed as one of the seven ways to improve patient satisfaction.
So once a hospital has a hold on time management and using clinical tools that help them save time, it's assumed that improving the clinical outcomes would also be on the list of ways to improve satisfaction, and according to the AAOA research has identified a clear link between patient outcomes and patient satisfaction scores.
The research states that, "Patient satisfaction is a key determinant of quality of care and an important component of pay-for-performance metrics. Under the CMS Hospital Inpatient Value-Based Purchasing (HIVBP) program."
This proves that hospitals need not find just the lowest cost when it comes to the implementation of products or processes, however they need to look for the lowest total cost.
It's like going to the grocery store and buying a cheaper brand of paper towels because side-by-side the price is less than another paper towel brand and on the surface they both look the same. We've all done this and we all know how quickly you go through that roll of paper towels because it doesn't absorb as well as the other brand, proving that the quality upon usage really isn't comparable.
So going back to that big picture for the hospitals, they will lose out on reimbursement money if the products or processes they implement are cheaper on the onset, because they won't be most cost-effective in the long run.
Think about that next time you are in the paper towel aisle.