The aspects that can improve hospitals' HCAHPS scores

Hospitals can improve HCAHPS scores by investing in the nursing work environment, nurse education and staff levels, a recent study found.

The study, published in Medical Care, analyzed HCAHPS scores for 540 hospitals in California, Florida, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in 2016. The study focused on the relationship between ratings and four categories of hospital nursing resources: education, skill mix, staffing and work environment. The average overall rating was 68%, with scores ranging from about 76% to 60%.

Researchers found the most strongly related factor to ratings was the work environment. For each standard-deviation increase in work environment score, hospitals were 2.42 more likely to be in a higher patient experience performance category, according to an April 10 news release.

Within the work environment category, staff development and continuing education, as well as nurse participation in hospital affairs, appeared to have the greatest impact on scores.

Nurse education and staffing also showed significant associations with scores, while the nursing skill mix had no significant impact.

"Improving nursing resources is a strategic organizational intervention likely to improve HCAHPS ratings," the researchers wrote. "Our findings offer a signal to hospital executives that improving the work environment, staffing, and nurse education may be wise investments toward achieving 'top-box' patient experience levels."

The HCAHPS survey, developed by CMS, assesses patient experiences in hospital care with the goal of improving patient-centered care.

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