How Technology Can Improve HCAHPS Scores

By Clean Hands - Safe Hands

The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, also known as HCAHPS, is the first national, standardized survey of patient satisfaction in healthcare. HCAHPS is publicly reported which means patients can research hospitals and make educated decisions about which providers to use when in need.

The HCAHPS survey asks discharged patients a series of questions about varying aspects of their hospital stay. The survey covers communication with providers, responsiveness of staff, pain management, cleanliness, and more. Not only is HCAHPS vital for a hospital’s reputation, the government provides reimbursement based on results. Needless to say, hospitals take HCAHPS very seriously.

HCAHPS and Hand Hygiene

The HCAHPS survey asks the discharged patients questions about their perceptions of hand hygiene. At Kaiser Permanente, patients reported hand hygiene rates around 77%. Management claimed their hand hygiene was actually over 90% as determined from direct observation. Kaiser then deployed a hospital wide initiative to improve hand hygiene perceptions. This initiative involved replacing all gels with a very visible foam, requiring all staff to wear a “We Wash Because We Care” sticker, retraining all patient interacting clinicians, and creating a hand hygiene workforce.

Technology could have helped Kaiser and many other hospitals address this particularly difficult challenge. With an IoT (Internet of Things) system, hospitals can be confident in their hand hygiene scores, removing the reliance on direct observation or secret shoppers. The Clean Hands – Safe Hands systems has a Natural Language Voice Reminder™ that gently reminds providers in the moment to wash their hands if they forget. Not only does a voice improve hand hygiene rates, it serves as a patient advocate in the room. Patients rarely speak up when they notice a provider fail to sanitize, but they do notice, and that is later reflected in HCAHPS scores.

Technology not only provides reliable data around hand hygiene rates; a voice reminder shows the patient that a hospital takes hand hygiene seriously.

HCAHPS and Patient Interactions and Communication

The biggest theme on the standard inpatient HCAHPs questionnaire is related to responsiveness of staff and communication. Having patients wait when they need help not only has the potential to impact the survey results but also lead to patient harm. Unfortunately, the reality is that most hospitals do not have insight into their wait times or where their problem areas are. They don’t know which patients are not being visited regularly, which shifts tend to not check on their patients, or if it varies by the day or hour.

Technology can provide valuable insights so that hospitals can improve their process before they get a detrimental HCAHPS score. Clean Hands – Safe Hands has partnered with several hospitals to help provide analytics to drive targeted intervention. The graphs below represent data from a community that wanted to target their provider interactions. In the graph, patient interactions were grouped by day of the week and by type of shift on the left. On the right, patient interactions were grouped by hour of shift and by type of shift. The graph shows that the number of patient visits varies by both day of week and time of day. The data showed that night shift visits patients less regularly which was expected. However, everyone was surprised that Wednesday was the busiest day of the week and that patient visits are low at the start of a shift. The hospital leadership was then able to design targeted interventions related to patient experience.

While interacting with patients is important for their satisfaction, prolonged periods of time without patient interactions leads to significant safety concerns. One of the most common reasons why patients fall is that they get up to use the restroom unassisted. The solution to this is as simple as getting the staff to regularly check on and respond to patient needs. Unfortunately, actually implementing this at scale represents a massive organizational challenge. This is where technology can be a huge help as it provides more accurate data than what the hospitals can gather on their own. the situation. The image below shows a Real Time Intervention Blue Print™  where the size of each blue square indicates the number of room entrances and exits. When an at risk patient isn’t visited regularly, unit leaders are alerted to check the patient.

Hospitals can use technology to gain insights into their patient visits and make critical decisions accordingly. When a hospital is actively ensuring that patients are visited regularly, patient satisfaction and safety improves. This not only has the potential to improve the reputation of the hospital but also impact the bottom line through the reimbursements tied to HCAPS and HAC penalties.

To discuss getting ahead of the curve and improving patient satisfaction before you get a negative HCAHPS score, contact Clean Hands – Safe Hands for more information.


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