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HCAHPS, HCAHPS, HCAHPS. It’s a hot topic in healthcare. Hospitals are being judged by the satisfaction of their patients, and most leaders in acute care want to know how to increase their organization’s HCAHPS scores. Healthcare organizations not directly impacted by the survey (such as pediatrics) will soon have their own similar surveys to contend with thanks to CAHPS. What’s the secret to higher scores?

First, here’s a brief History of the HCAHPS survey:

  • 2002 – The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services partners with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to develop HCAHPS
  • 2005 – The National Quality Forum endorses HCAHPS, and the US Office of Management and Budget approves national roll out for public reposting purposes 
  • 2007 – Hospitals subject to Acute Care Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System provisions are required to submit HCAHPS data (and other quality measures) to receive full annual payment update
  • 2008 – HCAHPS data is publicly reported for the first time, allowing consumers to compare performance of area hospitals
  • 2010 – The Affordable Care Act makes HCAHPS a major piece in the Value Based Purchasing program, which takes money from worst performing hospitals and gives it to best performers as a financial reward 

Want to learn more about the history of HCAHPS? Download our HCAHPS infographic.

The Major Question

“How can I contribute improve the HCAHPS scores of my healthcare organization?” Two weeks ago, our VP of Marketing, Mike DiPietro, and I were honored to be guests on HRchitect’s HR Technology Happy Hour WebMingle, the HR Technology Industry’s LIVE web radio show. On the show, Mike explained that the main goal for HR when it comes to increasing HCAHPS is to hire people who are “built” for healthcare. “Not everyone can work in the stressful environment of a hospital and they don’t have the behavioral attributes such as teamwork and compassion,” he stated. 

Take our HCAHPS survey!

The Solution

Hiring the right people is critical. As I shared with the audience at the McKesson InSight Conference last week, competences like “compassion, flexibility, multi-tasking, and adaptability” are important behaviors to evaluate for HCAHPS, especially when it comes to nursing candidates. Behavioral assessment software will help you hire candidates with those competencies. But research published in our new white paper, HCAHPS and Performance Management: 5 Strategies to Increase Scores, suggests that hospitals with structured performance management processes and an automated performance management system maintain higher HCAHPS survey scores. Performance management software is beneficial when it comes to developing employees with the right behavioral HCAHPS competencies; it’s important employees understand that their performance directly influences the patients’ experience, which determines HCAHPS scores. In order to do that, employees need to be educated on HCAHPS. Consider the following:

  • Integrate HCAHPS education into your orientation process 
  • Make HCAHPS training materials easily accessible online
  • Hold employees accountable for HCAHPS goals through consistent performance evaluations that focus on patient service

Not only can you track the employee’s performance in a performance management system, but you can set goals as well. Have managers sit down with the employee and create individual goals that align with the hospital’s main objective – to increase patient satisfaction. Once the goals are set, the next step is to use performance appraisals to measure whether or not the employee actually met their goals. It’s hard to tie exact numerical goals to individuals when it comes to HCAHPS scores. But through informal learning, like storytelling, and tracking anecdotal information throughout the year in your performance management system, managers will be able to attribute positive patient satisfaction scores to positive employee behavior. This way, an employee can see how they contribute directly to the organization’s success and HCAHPS will become important to everyone at your organization.

Want to find out more steps on how to improve HCAHPS with effective performance management strategies? Read our White Paper: HCAHPS and Performance Management: 5 Strategies to Increase Scores.

About The Editorial Staff

The Editorial Staff is a team of writers with a passion for helping healthcare organizations manage their biggest and most important investment: their employees.