Patient experience measures decline, but there's a 'bright spot'

Patient experience scores across the U.S. worsened for the second year in a row, though contributing factors may be improving, according to data from The Leapfrog Group's fall safety grades. 

Leapfrog includes five patient experience measures in its safety grades: nurse communication, doctor communication, staff responsiveness, communication about medicine and discharge information. Scores for each measure are calculated based on patient responses to a national and standardized survey following a hospital visit. 

In 2022, all states saw a significant decline in the patient experience measures. The same was true in 2019, the last time experience measures were published by CMS. The two measures that saw the most significant declines in 2022 were communication about medicines and staff responsiveness. The tangible consequences of low performance in these measures are serious, as research has shown they are strongly related to patient safety and outcomes, Missy Danforth, vice president of healthcare ratings at Leapfrog, told Becker's

For instance, with lower performance on communicating about medicines, "You don't want a patient taking a medicine if they don't understand the side effects, and then potentially suffering a medication adverse event," she said. 

One of the factors involved in declining experience measures, however, may be improving. 

"One bright spot is that what we are hearing from the field is one big potential contributor to these scores was that during COVID, different healthcare providers were not going into patient rooms as maybe they had been," Ms. Danforth said. "If the hospital's protocol was to have a pharmacist go to the room, sit next to your bed and have a conversation with you to make sure you understood how to take the medicine and what the potential side effects are, during COVID, we knew that was not happening." 

Instead, such interactions were mostly happening virtually. 

Now, hospitals are reporting those types of COVID-19 protocols have been eased, and "we think that will have a significant impact" on making progress, she said. 


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