Key to safe, patient-centered care? Employee engagement, Press Ganey says

Hospitals with lower infection and readmission rates and shorter lengths of stay tend to have higher HCAHPS scores, according to a Press Ganey special report released Wednesday.

"Patients' perceptions of their care experience can be considered a surrogate for the degree to which an organization delivers on its promise to provide safe, quality, patient-centered care," the report — "Achieving Excellence: The Convergence of Safety, Quality, Experience and Caregiver Engagement" — reads. "These data tell us that patients know safe, quality care when they see it, and that when they receive it their overall care experience is better."

For instance, hospitals that perform in the top quartile in overall HCAHPS scores have lower rates of central line-associated bloodstream infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, Clostridium difficle infections and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections.

Additionally, hospitals with higher patient experience scores tend to fare better on financial metrics than those that don't.

So, patient experience is intertwined with patient safety and quality as well as financials, and "excellence across all domains hinges on culture," says Nell Buhlman, Press Ganey's chief strategy officer. She calls it the "underpinning of being able to deliver truly patient-centered care that is safe, high-quality and delivered with compassion."

In the report, data shows hospitals with higher HCAHPS scores also tend to have higher physician engagement, employee engagement and nursing perception of care environment scores. In other words, they have a cohesive culture.

The relationship between care safety, quality and experience and caregiver engagement "indicate that meaningful progress toward high-quality, harm-free, compassionate, connected healthcare requires a highly engaged workforce supported by a strong cultural foundation," according to the report. And because these are all tied into a hospitals' financial success, it should be a strategic imperative to develop a supportive culture to engage employees.

Ms. Buhlman recommends hospitals start measuring employee engagement and nurse perception of practice environment if they haven't already. And if they find some units are very far from engaged, hospital leaders should see that as a "call to action … a burning platform" to start building engagement and culture, she says.

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