It’s Not About the HCAHPS Scores!

Yesterday, I was doing physician communication training with a large group of doctors. To give context, I showed them their current patient experience scores focused on physician communication. One of the attendees raised his hand and said, “There has never been any research that shows doing these surveys improves patient experience.”

I agreed with him, and I think that surprised him. But I went on to ask the group, “How often do you draw bloodwork on patients?” Of course, the answer is all the time. I went on to explain that, like lab work and other diagnostic tests they rely on daily, patient experience surveys are an essential part of the diagnosis and treatment plan for the patient experience. Lab tests provide vital signs about what is going well and what needs to be adjusted. Like lab work guides you in adjusting medication and other therapies, patient experience surveys are a measurement tool, not the treatment. The treatment lies in consistent provider behaviors that improve the interaction between provider and patient. It is their actions that result in improvements. In truth, it’s always about whether you use the information to take action.

Moving Beyond HCAHPS Scores

Of course, to the provider whose compensation is tied to HCAHPS scores, it is about the scores. However, using scores as a carrot or a stick doesn’t build an understanding of how patients perceive interactions.

Having this conversation with the providers helped move their attention to what behaviors would improve their communication with patients.

Doctors are scientists. They crave data to understand the world. Give them data but help them keep patient experience scores in perspective. Like lab work, they give a strong indication of the health of the patient experience and where adjustments must be made.

What messages are you sending when sharing patient experience scores? It’s important to speak their language. The scores alone don’t create improvement. But changing behaviors will. 

If you’re ready to begin a more transparent relationship with your employees and create meaningful changes that stick, contact us today for a free consultation

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