Home Health Can Help Hospitals Improve Satisfaction Scores

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Karen Utterback By Karen Utterback 
Former Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy, McKesson (Retired)
An engaged home health employee improves patient satisfaction

Considering the unpredictable winter most of the nation experienced, it’s no surprise that customer satisfaction with gas and electric providers is down 2.7%, according to “Utilities, Shipping and Health Care Report 2015” from American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

The fact that patient satisfaction is down 3.2% is more surprising—but maybe it shouldn’t be. Despite a strong focus on patient satisfaction in recent years, a number of factors are keeping hospitals from delivering the high quality of care necessary to earn top scores.

Demand for healthcare services is on the rise, with household healthcare spending up nearly 6% in 2014, according to ASCI. At the same time, the rate of growth in the healthcare workforce slowed. “The influx of the newly insured is putting pressure on a system that is still playing catch up,” said David VanAmburg, ACSI managing director. “Rising demand that is outpacing supply, coupled with increasing healthcare costs, is a formula for lower satisfaction.”

Indeed, ACSI’s score of 75.1 for patient satisfaction is the lowest level in nearly a decade. Although quality of care is less satisfactory for both ambulatory care and hospital services than last year, patients said ambulatory care is better than hospital services by a significant margin.

Home health organizations can play a crucial role in helping hospitals change the way patients feel about their care, says Anthony Cirillo, a senior-health expert and owner of Fast Forward Consulting.

“If healthcare executives want to improve the experience, they need to look beyond the hospital walls,” Cirillo says. “Transitions of care are becoming more important, and the hand-offs in healthcare are terrible.”

Cirillo points out that home health organizations are ideally positioned to ensure hospitals have not only the clinical data about the patient, but also the patient’s story. However, he notes that in order to fulfill this role, the industry needs more workers who are genuinely passionate about the profession and fewer who are going through the motions in exchange for a paycheck.

In addition to continuing to hire and retain experienced, enthusiastic workers, home health organizations can use tools such as Home Health Compare to evaluate and seek out areas for improvement. Just as importantly, they can ask themselves “What can I do to increase patient satisfaction today?”

Learn how focusing on caregiver experience can help improve patient satisfaction scores in this blog post.

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