Feedback Helps Doctors Excel

FEEDBACKAs part of health care reforms in the United States, it’s now standard to measure patient satisfaction upon hospital discharge after an inpatient experience. The instrument used to take this measurement is called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). This 32-item survey asks patients to rate how well they were cared for by doctors and nurses during their stay, as well as how comfortable and clean the hospital was.

These scores increasingly have meaning for doctors, as they become part of the way that hospitals and health systems evaluate them. Hospitals and health systems, meanwhile, care about these scores because Medicare and Medicaid are starting to tie hospital reimbursement to those scores. So how can these organizations help the doctors who work for them get their scores as high as possible?

By making their scores public, of course! (At least within the context of their workplace.)

In Service Fanatics: How to Build Superior Patient Experience the Cleveland Clinic Way, Dr. Jim Merlino notes that not only do Cleveland Clinic physicians receive their own HCAHPS scores on a quarterly basis, but each department’s scores are unblinded so doctors can see where they stand relative to colleagues. Anyone can review the Cleveland Clinic overall scores on their website. As vulnerable as such transparency may feel for people, it helps to identify those who are truly struggling and motivate those who have the potential to do better. Unblinding the feedback at the departmental level means that these doctors not only understand their individual performance, but can view it in the context of their colleagues’ performance.

Many other hospital systems are going the way of Cleveland Clinic and making patient satisfaction scores public (see Val Verde in Texas or Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare in Florida).

HCAHPS scores are another example of how feedback is essential to improving performance. As hard as it can be to ask for it, getting feedback on how you’ve been doing can be an incredibly helpful way to get better. So how will you go about getting it done?