More hospitals are vying for superior patient satisfaction ratings by hiring a "chief patient experience officer"—an individual focused on boosting satisfaction in everything from medical care to sleeker waiting rooms.
Beginning in October, hospitals will receive Medicare reimbursement based on ratings associated with patient-related issues like communication, quality of rooms, and pain management. Creating a position focused on those goals could put a hospital ahead of the competition, Crain's New York Business reports.
How New York hospitals are trying to close gap
According to Crain's, New York hospitals are especially focused on the effort following low 2011 satisfaction scores—patients are only 64% likely to recommend a hospital in the state in comparison with the nationwide average of 70%.
Projecting the impact under new Medicare guidelines, Health Care Association of New York estimates hospitals could collectively lose more than $6 million in reimbursement. Although only a fraction of the $6 billion the state receives in Medicare pay, that $6 million could come from just a handful of hospitals instead of a statewide cut.
NYU Langone Medical Center's chief of hospital operations Bernard Birnbaum said improving the patient experience is the goal, but “there's also no question that dollars are involved now, so we have to improve our programs so we can try to reclaim those dollars."
The hospital has made a $1 billion investment in a patient pavilion with only single rooms, which tend to improve infection control and satisfaction scores. Meanwhile, the hospital's patient experience officer, Nina Setia, teaches staff to not ask whether patients have questions, but what those questions are.
North Shore-LIJ is focused on improving communication with proactive “rounding”—having staff visit patients hourly to see if they need anything.
"If you're checking on your patients every hour, you can find things clinically wrong that you may not have found if you didn't round as often," said Alan Cooper, from the hospital’s Center for Learning and Innovation (Johnson, Crain's New York Business, 6/10 [subscription required]).