How HTM Can Positively Impact HCAHPS Scores

Imagine this scenario – your grandmother has come down with a horrible, racking cough and constantly needs to be under blankets or else she will shiver violently. As a concerned grandchild, you want to take her to a hospital as you’re concerned it could be something serious. If you had two nearby major hospitals, which one would you choose? Hospital A with a 4-star rating or Hospital B with a 2-star rating? Easy choice, right? These star ratings are derived from what is called a HCAHPS score, or Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and System Survey. Aimed to measure patient experience and satisfaction, hospitals are incentivized to be the most efficient and have the best patient care – which HTM, or healthcare technology management, can make a significant impact in. In this article, we explore what exactly makes a HCAHPS score and how exactly HTM can positively influence it.

Understanding HCAHPS Scores

Developed and managed by Medicare & Medicaid, HCAHPS scores are standardized measures to understand and assess the patient’s perception of their experience at the hospital. They are captured through feedback surveys where patients are asked about their communication with staff, pain management, cleanliness, and overall satisfaction. Patients will see questions asking about the effectiveness of communication, the clarity of explanations regarding medical conditions, timely assistance, the effectiveness of pain relief measures, responsiveness to pain concerns, the hospital's cleanliness and comfort, and how they would rate their overall satisfaction. This pool of ratings is then analyzed and averaged to a result on a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is the lowest and 10 is the highest score.

The significance of the score is three-fold. Firstly, by utilizing the average score, hospitals and Medicare/Medicaid can compare themselves against local, state, and national competitors to understand where they fall in the healthcare system. Secondly, not only does this offer comparative feedback, but this average score affects their funding from the government by up to 3%. If Hospital A receives a higher score compared to their previous score, they can see an increase in funding, while if Hospital B decreased, their check will come up shorter. When speaking about large sums of money, this fluctuation in funding is a primary driver for hospital and their operations. Lastly, as we mentioned in the beginning, their score can affect patient intake as the 1-10 score is translated to a 1–5-star rating, more easily accessible to the potential patient. Thus, the higher the score compared against local competitors, the higher the chance of receiving more patients. Hospitals deeply understand the impact that HCAHPS scores have on their finances and influence on patients, so finding their optimal point of efficiency and patient experience is a high priority.

The Role of HTM in HCAHPS Scores

HTM, or healthcare technology management, impacts a hospital’s HCAHPS score in a number of ways, however, there are two crucial tactics that make the largest impact. These are enhancing equipment reliability and availability and promoting patient safety. HTM is defined as the operation responsible for managing and maintaining medical equipment throughout the healthcare facility. It is the HTM provider’s duty to perform preventative and corrective maintenance on all devices under their care to ensure safe, reliable, and efficient equipment. Ensuring that equipment is up to date and safely maintained, minimizes disruptions in patient care, thus positively impacting a patient’s overall satisfaction. In contrast, if a piece of equipment was down when their treatment required it, this would negatively impact patient satisfaction. Furthermore, managing the full scope of each piece of equipment ensures proper installation, testing, and maintenance are performed, significantly decreasing the risk of equipment failure or malfunctions. As a result, ensuring patient safety and fostering trust and confidence in the care provided in the eyes of the patient, impacts their feedback. Other ways HTM indirectly influences HCAHPS scores to include improving internal communication through CMMS abilities and consulting in workflow processes regarding equipment to increase efficiency.

HCAHPS scores impact healthcare facilities in finances and with patients. A well-managed HTM program has the potential to impact those scores by ensuring equipment reliability and availability, thus keeping patient safety a top priority. At InterMed, we deeply understand the importance of HCAHPS scores to our clients, that is why we ensure we are transparent with our clients and always bring the best.