Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Chili Dogs and Patient Satisfaction

Last week, I had the chance to attend the Missouri Hospital Association's annual conference. First of all, I would like to congratulate and once again welcome Herb Kuhn, the new President and CEO. I had a chance to meet Herb and was extremely impressed by his leadership and plans for the direction of the MHA.

I always enjoy the drive down to the Lake of the Ozarks for the MHA conference. It gives me time to think and to enjoy and observe people. On one of my stops during the drive, I was amused to see a smiling group of people waiting in line for chili dogs. Clearly these folks have a high level of satisfaction with this particular chili dog stand - especially since it was 7:00 a.m.

The MHA conference opened with a speaker - Benjamin Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. He discussed his book, The Art of Possibility. It really spoke to how everyone can contribute to life's experiences. I was especially interested in his discussion about singing the Happy Birthday song. He focused on how key words, body language and tone can make a huge difference on the person's experience with that song. For example, when you sing the four sentences, does the enthusiasm build, stay the same or drop? Which words do you accentuate: Happy or You? Big difference.

All this brings me back to our patient experience and satisfaction in hospitals. We all know there are so many experiences a patient can have in the hospital.

We are measured through patient satisfaction surveys. St. Joseph Medical Center utilizes a third-party vendor, Healthstream, to complete our patient surveys. We also participate in HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems); also known as the CAHPS® Hospital Survey). It is a standardized survey instrument and data collection methodology for measuring patients’ perceptions of their hospital experience. While many hospitals already collect information on patient satisfaction for their own use, until HCAHPS there was no national standard for collecting and publicly reporting information about patients’ experiences that allowed valid comparisons to be made across hospitals locally, regionally or nationally.

Our most recent HCAHPS scores were for January 2008 - December 2008. We were at the 61st percentile among hospitals in the Kansas City area. Obviously our goal is the 99+ percentile which is a journey in and of itself.

Our overall patient satisfaction score using Healthstream interviews (or Net Promotor Score) as of October 2009 is 68.5%. The average score for the state of Missouri is 65%.

Based on the feedback, we are extremely pleased with our nursing care, physician involvement and ancillary support. We will focus on improving the following areas, which should improve our patient experience and in turn improve our scores:

  • Responsiveness

  • Quietness of patient care environment
  • Communication
We will stay clear of providing chili dogs at 7:00 a.m. however.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you and would appreciate knowing how your organization improves its satisfaction scores.

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