Medicare Rewards for Process, Patient Satisfaction Not Always Linked to Better Outcomes

The movement to improve hospital quality has long assumed that close adherence to best medical practices leads to better outcomes. But a Modern Healthcare analysis of Medicare's first stabs at rewarding hospitals that do well on process-of-care measures and a patient-satisfaction survey while penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates shows only a minor correlation between the two.

The analysis, which uses Medicare's initial results for the value-based purchasing and readmissions reduction programs, also shows that hundreds of hospitals that did well in one program were penalized in the other. Dozens of hospitals that got the highest marks for avoiding readmissions were heavily penalized for their performance on process and patient satisfaction, while dozens more that received the maximum penalty for high 30-day readmission rates got high marks on key processes and attention to patients.

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