Just as Yelp has revolutionized how people decide which restaurants they want to go to, so too has the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ HCAHPS (pronounced H-Caps) survey changed how hospitals perceive patient satisfaction. “HCAHPS” stands for the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey. It is the first “national, standardized, publicly reported survey of patients’ perspectives of hospital care.” A hospital’s HCAHPS survey results are important because Medicare uses the results to determine how much it will reimburse the hospital.
Medicare had three goals when first implementing HCAHPS:
- Obtain data about patient’s perceptions of care to allow for objective and meaningful comparisons of hospitals on topics that are important to consumers”;
- Provide an incentive for hospitals to improve quality of care; and
- Improve accountability in healthcare by “increasing transparency of the quality of hospital care provided in return for the public investment.”
While Medicare uses the information collected to determine how much it will pay hospitals, it is also encouraging consumers to use the information to learn more about their local hospitals. The results of the HCAHPS surveys are available on the Medicare website at: http://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html. Starting next month, Medicare is going to be adding a five-star rating system to further help consumers understand the information collected.
Whether it is fair for hospitals to be rated and paid depending on patient satisfaction is another question entirely, but the importance of scoring well on the HCAHPS survey cannot be denied..