March 13, 2024

HCAHPS explained and how to get good results

The saying goes, “the customer is always right.” Not because they are infallible, but because their patronage is more important than any potential argument they raise. In our consumer-driven world, customers have the power to take their business elsewhere if they are unhappy with their experience. In order to keep customers happy, businesses need to understand their customers’ needs and expectations.

Despite the life-saving nature of the work, health systems are no different. Because of the variety of hospital systems available today, competition between them all exists as it would in any business model. Just like Yelp evolved from customers’ needs to rate business experiences, a rating system for hospitals from the patients’ perspectives also emerged. What’s the Yelp for hospitals? It’s HCAHPS. 

What are HCAHPS?

HCAHPS stands for Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, and it’s the first national, standardized survey to measure patient satisfaction in hospital systems. HCAHPS are comprised of a 29-item survey that collects patient experience metrics as data points. Examples of the survey are available on the official HCAHPS website, along with the declaration that HCAHPS were developed with three main goals in mind:

  1. To standardize hospital ratings in order to make accurate comparisons.
  2. To incentivize hospitals to increase their quality of care.
  3. To enhance accountability and increase transparency in exchange for public investment.

HCAHPS are here to stay

The first HCAHPS results were published in 2008, and have only grown in relevance ever since. As the world went online and everyone downloaded social media apps to communicate with wider networks, patients discovered the power of their collective voices to make their feelings known.

The entire point of healthcare is to serve patients and help them heal. HCAHPS results reveal if patients in a health system feel they are being adequately served. Hospital systems with high HCAHPS ratings understand the importance of the patient/provider connection - and that accounting for patient satisfaction only improves their health outcomes. 

How to boost HCAHPS in your health system

The questions on the HCAHPS survey focus on several key issues: patient treatment, provider communication, provider attentiveness, medical clarity, and post-visit instruction. Any health system looking to boost its HCAHPS results and earn patient trust should remember three simple tips:

1. Compassion is key

When someone is sick or hurt and asking for help, they are vulnerable. Any action a clinician can take to show they care about their patient infuses the interaction with feelings of safety and trust. Clinical platforms like Playback help HCAHPS skyrocket with personalized video instructions sent directly to patients’ mobile devices from their doctors. Patients using Playback experience a new level of thoughtful, intentional care, and satisfaction scores rise as a result. 

2. Communicate with clarity

Good communication between clinicians and with patients transforms a patient’s  experience in any health system and leads to positive health outcomes. When the right information is conveyed in an effective manner, providers and patients act as a team working towards the same goal of health. By bridging the information gap between patients and providers, clinical platforms like Playback keep everyone on the same page throughout a patient’s medical journey. A well-informed patient is a powerful partner. 

3. Care beyond closed doors

Patients need to know that when they leave those hospital doors, they don’t disappear. By giving patients clear instructions on how to continue their health journeys outside of the hospital, patients feel their providers are invested in their complete recovery. By mobilizing patient medical records and looping in trusted family and friends, platforms like Playback go the extra mile to strengthen care communities and demonstrate commitment to patients’ long-term health, in and outside the doctor’s office. 

Playback Health’s unified platform boosts HCAHPS by increasing patient care while simultaneously supporting clinicians. Get started today. 

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