Hospital hallways are abuzz with “HCAHPS.” And this new reporting tool will undoubtedly affect your day–to–day work as a bedside nurse. HCAHPS stands for Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems and it is a national, standardized, publicly reported survey of patients’ perspectives of hospital care. It’s a key part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
What is being measured?
Measurement has already begun, with the first public reporting starting in 2013. There are five main components measured, centered around patient–provider communication:
- How well nurses and doctors communicate with patients and each other;
- How responsive hospital staff are to patients’ needs;
- How well hospital staff help patients manage pain;
- How well the staff communicates with patients about medicines;
- And whether key information is provided at discharge.
HCAHPS impact on bedside nurses
So, what does it really mean to you as a practicing bedside nurse? It means that the patient’s perception of the quality of care they receive in the hospital will be publicly available to potential consumers of healthcare services – and those perceptions will impact the way hospitals are reimbursed for services provided.
Carolyn Fong, professor and chair of nursing and health sciences at California State University, believes HCAHPS will bring positive focus and recognition to nurses. “I think HCAHPS will highlight how much patients really appreciate the care given by nurses in the hospital. Overall, patients are usually quite satisfied and thankful for the care provided by nurses.”
Fong also expects to see changes in nurse training. “For the future, I do think hospitals should provide more education to nurses about how they impact patient satisfaction and how to improve clinical outcomes. More insight into patient satisfaction can result in innovative initiatives to improve clinical care and systems operations – thereby, improving nursing practice. Everyone wins.”
Nurses can also expect changes in how their performance is measured. They will be evaluated in how well their unit, and how they individually, are rated by their patients in the HCAHPS criteria. Compensation by even change from hourly based pay to pay for performance.
Related story: How Nursing Care Will Impact the Bottom Line