When did you last read HCAHPS survey questions?

By now you are all aware how your HCAHPS survey results might impact your reimbursements. Many of you might even be proactive in making sure the results are positive. No matter what initiatives you are currently working, have you (and your team) taken time to actually review the questions being asked on the patient survey?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: reviewing the questions might not only improve patient satisfaction, but also your scores! Paying attention to each question on the survey can provide big clues as to some changes that might need to be made.

Let’s take for example some of the questions in the section that reviews hospital experiences. One of the questions asks, “Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for?”

As simple as it might seem, your nursing team might not be properly introducing new medication to patients. Instead of walking into the patient’s room and saying, “The doctor has requested that you take this medication,” it would be helpful to also explain what the medication is called, why it was prescribed, and how it will help the patient with his or her symptoms.

This leads us into the next question in the HCAHPS survey which asks, “Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?”

Not only should your nurses explain the “what” and “why” new medication is being administered, but possible side effects that the patient might experience. Let’s not overlook the clarifier, “in a way you could understand.”

The take away from these two questions is that it is not only important to appropriately explain the medication, but to do so in a way that the patient understands. It’s the nurse’s responsibility to ensure patients understand before leaving the room.

Now, here is the key to change. A change in any process will need to be managed. It does not do any good to talk to your team about “medication/side effects” question if you are not going manage the process of change. You have to follow-up, monitor, listen in to conversations being held, and manage into the change.

As we all know, change is sometimes difficult for people who have been doing it for many years. That is why scripting might need to be involved to help illustrate how an ideal interaction might take place for administering new medication to patients.

There are many facets involved to ensure patient satisfaction and managing into a positive hospital experience; but drilling deep into the HCHAPS survey can provide valuable clues on how internal processes might be changed to ensure a successful outcome for your patients and your facility.