Are you leaving your money on the government’s table?

At this stage it is unclear whether the Affordable Care Act will be repealed in its entirety or whether aspects of it will remain in place.

Whatever happens any legislation is unlikely to do away with the requirement of hospitals to reach government mandated levels of patient satisfaction in order to be fully reimbursed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Hospitals that fail to boost their HCAHPS scores will continue to be penalized financially, unnecessarily throwing away sorely needed income that they could receive by improving the standard of their patients' experience.

Hospitals that have taken a strategic approach to shaping their organizational culture with the aim of delivering an outstanding patient experience are rewarded by greatly increased satisfaction scores and increased revenue. Additionally, they have set themselves apart from their competitors, leading to greater demand for their services. Those hospital leaders who have the vision, and the determination, to create such a culture know that it is an ongoing process that must be a key part of their values. It is who they are and what they stand for. Why it is essential and how it is to be consistently achieved has to be conveyed to their staff, who must be given the tools to succeed at delivering on it.

How to create such a patient centric culture? It needs to be a strategic initiative that comes from the top. The leadership team has to come together to discuss and agree on who they are, what values are important to them, what culture they want to create, their level of commitment and what a successful end result looks like. Once these objectives are established a customized plan to achieve them can be put together depending on the individual requirements of the organization. Some degree of leadership training for each management tier is generally important so that they can get the best from their staff and create a harmonious working relationship with colleagues. They also need to be given the expertise and understand the responsibilities for them to train their own staff. Training provides the critical thinking and behavioral skills so that everyone is constantly thinking "if I was the patient what could someone do for me that would make my experience better?"

Establishing such a culture is the first phase; it must then become an ongoing part of the hospital DNA. Managers are responsible for constantly reinforcing it through example and mentoring. Staff who do not feel engaged at work are unlikely to enthusiastically engage their patients so all leaders have a duty to consistently provide a positive working atmosphere. Staff who know they are valued and respected will in turn demonstrate they respect and value their patients.

Such training is an investment, but it is an investment that quickly realizes both cultural and financial returns. Higher HCAHPS scores will result in increased revenue that can more than offset the cost of training. The government might be grateful if you leave your money on their table, but patients will thank you if you don't.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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