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Significant changes have been made to Medicare's (CMS) reimbursement formula for fiscal year 2008 that could negatively impact your hospital's bottom line and comparative quality scores unless immediate steps are taken to ensure that your hospital successfully complies with Medicare's HCAHPS program and related quality initiatives.

Strategic Health is a Medicare approved HCAHPS vendor that has years of experience in the patient satisfaction/organizational improvement survey field and can assist your hospital in easily and effectively complying with this new Medicare requirement. Our organization has developed a comprehensive patient satisfaction/organizational improvement survey tool that fully complies with all HCAHPS reporting requirements. The standard survey tool uses all required HCAHPS questions and is submitted electronically to the HCAHPS program in the required XML data format.

Strategic Health has also developed an enhanced survey tool that meets all the HCAHPS requirements but also allows your hospital to customize and expand its quality survey to meet hospital specific goals and enhance your patient's clinical experience. The enhanced survey tool includes real time daily and monthly reporting packages.

The HCAHPS initiative was created to uniformly measure and publicly report patients' perspectives of their inpatient care. Three broad goals have shaped the HCAHPS survey:

  • First, the survey is designed to produce comparable data on the patient's perspective of care that allows objective and meaningful comparisons between hospitals on domains that are important to consumers.

  • Second, public reporting of the survey results is designed to create incentives for hospitals to improve their quality of care.

  • Third, public reporting will serve to enhance public accountability in health care by increasing the transparency of the quality of hospital care provided in return for the public investment.

At the present time, Medicare (CMS) is only requiring that Inpatient discharge data be collected in order to maintain full reimbursement from CMS. The ruling that Outpatient discharge data be collected as well has been pushed back to begin in fiscal 2009.Hospitals that fail to report HCHAPS survey information (as well as other quality measures) face a penalty of 2 percentage points from their inpatient update for fiscal 2008.

All non-specialty hospitals are eligible to participate in HCAHPS reporting. The minimum completed surveys required for the HCAHPS program are 300 for a 12-month period. Special exceptions can be made for smaller hospitals that do not have enough yearly inpatient discharges to achieve the minimum of 300.

In order to meet CMS requirements and achieve the full payment update in the 2008 fiscal year, each hospital must participate in the March 2007 Dry Run and then participate in the 2007 national implementation beginning with July 2007 discharges.

Participating hospitals must begin collecting data for the Dry Run for at least one month between March and May 2007. The Dry Run will permit hospitals and their survey vendors to gain first-hand experience in collecting and transmitting HCAHPS data, without the public reporting of hospital results for the Dry Run period.All hospitals that intend to join HCAHPS in the July 2007 national implementation must take part in the Dry Run.

As indicated, Strategic Health has developed a unique brand of patient satisfaction and operational improvement surveys that meet or exceed the CMS requirements listed above and can also be used as the catalyst for meaningful organizational change efforts.

Strategic Health's standard HCAHPS survey tool uses one-on-one telephone conversations (as opposed to paper or mail surveys) with each inpatient or guardian of a minor inpatient within 48-hours of discharge. The ultimate goal of the telephone survey is to meet the HCAHPS requirements and ensure that the hospital maintains its full reimbursement from the Medicare program. It also lets patients know that the hospital cares about them and their hospital stay and wants to make sure that their comments are personally attended to.

With the enhanced survey tool patient verbatim comments are recorded as well. Patient comments are a valuable companion to customer satisfaction surveys since each customer is likely to have had a completely different experience from relatively the same service. Research shows that by engaging patients in their healthcare experience in this manner they are more likely to return for their next health care service. Research also shows that through this engagement, malpractice claims are decreased by $1.12M for the average community hospital. An additional benefit is the improvement of clinical procedures to ensure better patient satisfaction in the future.

The verbal comments gathered from patients with the enhanced survey tool will determine and drive these initiatives for change. Patients' personal comments, both positive and negative, will be forwarded to the participating hospital's customer relations committee where each will be addressed and acted upon as deemed necessary by the committee.

As indicated, Strategic Health's enhanced program includes daily and monthly reporting packages. The hospital will receive real-time daily reports of the comments given by any individual patient that are deemed to need an immediate response from hospital management. These real-time reports allow the hospital to attend to patient comments that may suggest additional treatments are needed or to attend to comments that may lead to legal action. Monthly reports will be generated and include up to 12 months of trending data, patient data sheets, and survey question score recaps.

The benefits to your organization of Strategic Health’s HCAHPS reporting package (both standard and enhanced versions) are significant.The in-depth information gleaned from these one-on-one personal surveys and the high response rate enjoyed by our team of professionals leads to reduced outmigration (increasing profitability for your hospital), enhances the risk management process and reduces liability costs, supplies meaningful data for your quality improvement team (generating proactive improvement rather than reactive crisis management), and leads to higher staff morale and overall patient satisfaction.

The continuous improvement activities that result from this process not only satisfy the Medicare (CMS) HCAHPS mandate but can also be used to satisfy JCAHO requirements as well. By using the services of Strategic Health in this way, your hospital can link patient satisfaction and customer service to long-term organizational improvement and create the foundation to effectively compete and succeed in your community.

If you would like to learn more about Strategic Health's HCAHPS survey tool and other patient satisfaction and organizational improvement products offered by our company please contact us at 1-801-521-5080.

However, time is of the essence. In order to meet CMS requirements and achieve the full payment update in the 2008 fiscal year, each hospital must participate in the March 2007 Dry Run and then participate in the 2007 national implementation beginning with July 2007 discharges.

  34 South 600 East · Salt Lake City, UT 84102 · Phone: 801.521.5080 · Fax: 801.521.5082