Patient Satisfaction: The Best Place to Start

November 11, 2015
iVantage Health

By James Boeding, Rural Health Consultant

Over the course of the last two weeks we’ve taken a closer look at how top performing rural providers are tackling Quality and Value Based Purchasing. Today, I’d like to share some thoughts on patient satisfaction – critical in today’s complex and competitive marketplace. The development of ACOs and narrow networks, the rise of non-traditional providers such as CVS and Walmart, and the implementation of new reimbursement models are just a few of the factors now impacting rural health strategy.

To keep ahead of these challenges, executives must make difficult decisions and prioritize their improvement initiatives. No other area offers a better quick-win for improvement than patient satisfaction.

The patient is – and should be – at the center of healthcare, and with the consumer-centric view of care on the rise, the patient experience matters more than ever. Patients are your neighbors – they are members of your community. And their perception of your hospital is reflected in how well a hospital performs when it comes to patient satisfaction.

Developed by CMS and AHRQ in the early 2000s, the HCAHPS survey created a national benchmark focused on achieving three goals:

  1. Produce data about patients’ perspectives of care that allow objective and meaningful comparisons of hospitals on topics that are important to consumers
  1. Incentivize hospitals to improve quality of care through public reporting
  1. Enhance accountability by increasing transparency of the quality of hospital care provided in return for the public investment

Similar to the Quality Process of Care measures, CAHs are not required to participate in HCAHPS but the majority of top CAHs are reporting and monitoring patient satisfaction scores using the national benchmark. Nearly 1,000 CAHs are submitting HCAHPS scores to CMS, which leaves approximately 300 rural providers on the sidelines.

Improving patient satisfaction should be rooted in the culture of an organization. Hospital staff – across all areas – have the opportunity to interact with patients, and those interactions have a major impact on patient satisfaction. For rural hospitals, understanding what shapes patient satisfaction means you don’t need a gleaming new facility to earn high marks. With a lot of patients, the minor details can often carry the most weight.

Today, we’re seeing top CAHs outperforming their competition with stellar service coming from each member of their team. In fact, on National Rural Health Day, coming up on November 19, iVantage and NOSORH are recognizing more than 400 rural facilities for scoring in the top 25 percent of all hospitals in the U.S. for patient satisfaction.

It’s a blueprint which we believe can be quickly and easily replicated. We encourage you to check out the list, reach out to those within your professional networks at these facilities, and start looking for ways you can improve your patients’ satisfaction. And if you need an introduction to a top performer, let me know. I’m happy to help facilitate a discussion. My email address is

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