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Raising the Bar in Rehab

HCAHPS and Physical Therapy

Published December 9, 2010 5:26 PM by Lisa West

I was talking with a friend a few days ago about work, and he asked me what I thought about the HCAHPS. Since I hadn't really heard too much about it, I did a little investigating at home.

The HCAHPS is a survey/data collection regarding patients' perspectives on hospital care. In 27 questions, the HCAHPS reviews eight areas of hospital care, including communication with doctors, communication with nurses, responsiveness of hospital staff, pain management, communication about medicines, discharge information, cleanliness of the hospital environment and quietness of the hospital environment.

I am all about accountability. I think HCAHPS is exactly what our health care system needs. By recognizing the health care providers who are efficient and thorough, we will be able to decrease the amount of unnecessary spending and the avoidable poor outcomes for our patients. We can compare apples-to-apples and talk the same language nationwide. I am not overly concerned about the actual scores, because I think a focus on patient care will show in high results on the HCAHPS.

I guess this is one area I wish insurance companies were more involved in. Instead of rationing visits and policing usage, it would be nice to see more of a focus on directing their insured customers to health care facilities with the highest performance scores. Imagine if a patient called his insurance company with complaints of neck pain, was instructed on the physical therapist with the best results for patients with that diagnosis, and educated on the number of visits he was preauthorized for. Obviously, this requires some initiative on the patient's part.

How do you think HCAHPS will affect your physical therapy practice? Do you know how your patients' satisfaction compares to competing PT practices?

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