Jordan Rau, in a piece featured on both NPR and Kaiser Health News, examines the case of Rowan Medical Center and how the hospital is reacting to the increasing importance of customer satisfaction in the healthcare industry.
Medicare began requiring hospitals to collect patient satisfaction data 8 years ago, and this data has begun to carry more weight in recent years. Since 2012, the Federal government considers the satisfaction of patients in determining the pay level for each hospital. Even some private insurers have followed suit.
The Rowan Medical Center has had some of the lowest levels of patient satisfaction in recent years. Just last year, the hospital lost nearly $30,000 in federal pay, and that amount could reach much higher levels if they do not improve soon. In a survey, patients at Rowan report they are much less satisfied with the pain control and wait time at the hospital.
Next month, the federal government will be simplifying the consumer reviews creating a five-star rating system for hospitals. Government officials are hoping that this system will prove easier for consumers.
In the past few years since this policy was implemented, many hospitals have successfully improved their patient satisfaction, but quite a few have remained stagnant. On a national level, hospitals have, on average, improved staff communication, cleanliness of the rooms, and a number of other categories.
One hospital in particular that has markedly improved is the University of Missouri Health System. They performed a series of live simulations with paid actors. Doctors were forced to address non-medical situations in these simulations in order to improve their communication skills.
Rowan, despite implementing sweeping changes, has yet to improve their scores. Emergency room wait times are down dramatically to half an hour, and the hospital’s doctors and nurses are receiving training on “bedside manner.” Nurses are visiting patients every hour, and spending more than seventy percent of their day with patients. Rowan executives believe that as long as they continue to try to make the patients feel more welcome, the scores will improve over time.