Should CMS Rethink Analysis of Patient Satisfaction Surveys?

According to a healthcare consultant, hospitals that handle high patient volume tend to receive lower patient satisfaction scores than the smaller, specialty hospitals. The discrepancy in the patient demographic and the kind of procedures being conducted need to be considered when evaluating hospitals, experts think.

In Medical Park hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C., Angela Koons is still a little loopy and uncomfortable after wrist surgery. Nurse Suzanne Cammer jokes around with her. When Koons says she's itchy under her cast, Cammer laughs and says, "Do not stick anything down there to scratch it!" Koons smiles and says, "I know."

Cammer is wearing charm-bracelets and jangly earrings, so she literally jingles as she works around Koons. Her enthusiasm for her job puts Koons at ease and is making her hospital stay more comfortable.

"They've been really nice, very efficient. Gave me plenty of blankets because it's really cold in this place," she says. A reporter takes a quick informal poll, asking Koons and her stepfather, Raymond Zwack, to rate their satisfaction with the hospital on a 10-point scale. They both give Medical Park the same rating: a perfect 10. Other patients -- Karen Siburt, George Stilphen and Emily Willard -- all agreed. They would rate the hospital a 9 or a 10.

Hospitals take more formal surveys from Medicare very seriously because the Affordable Care Act ties some hospital payments each year to how patients rate the facilities. Medical Park received a $22,000 bonus from Medicare in part because of sterling patient satisfaction surveys.

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