Everyone I know has had more than their fill of the implications of the new law known affectionately as Obamacare. But an aspect of the new law that you may not be aware of is the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). It is a 32-question “patient experience” survey that is required to be administered to at least 100 patients receiving care in hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements. This includes virtually every hospital.
The scores on the “patient experience” survey will determine the hospital’s reimbursement level. The “patient experience” survey measures the following dimensions:
- Communication with doctors
- Communication with nurses
- Quietness of hospital environment
- Responsiveness of hospital staff
- Communication about medicines
- Cleanliness of the hospital environment
- Pain management
- Discharge information
Hospitals have had a couple years to get ready for ACA, which takes effect on January 1, 2014. One expected result of the surveys is that they will draw more attention to the overall performance of staff members, and not just their technical expertise.
So what should hospitals be doing now to enhance the patient experience?
As with any organization, there are two ways to address performance issues. Organizations can do a better job of selecting new people that they bring in or they can try and “fix,” or train, the people they already employ.
I have been responsible for both selection and training in several different roles I have held over the years. I’ve said more than once that if I had $1,000 to spend on selection and training, I would spend $995 on selection and $5 on training. That tends to get a reaction, particularly from the training people.
But here’s my point:there are some things you can train people to do, such as how to use a piece of equipment. There are other things that you need to select for, such as interpersonal skills or attention to detail. There are a lot of training classes out there on time management and communication skills to teach people how to demonstrate things like attention to detail and interpersonal skills. Some of these programs show moderate success. However, in many instances when a person is under pressure then tend to revert to their original behavior.
What does this have to do with HCAHPS? Given the financial impact of “patient experience” surveys on federal reimbursement, it is in a hospital’s best interest to have the very best people representing it to its customers, the patients. The best way to get the “right” people in a hospital at the outset is pre-employment testing. Tests can be created for different jobs or job families and be content- and criterion-validated to ensure they are legally defensible as selection tools. This does not mean that you do not also screen potential employees technically for their medical skills. You do that too. In part, that is what their certifications should establish. In the long run, pre-employment testing will identify better candidates and do it less expensively with a lot less time spent on training.
EASI·Consult® works with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, and mid-sized corporations to provide customized Talent Management solutions.
EASI Consult’s specialties include individual assessment, online employment testing, survey research, competency modeling, leadership development, executive coaching, 360-degree feedback, online structured interviews, and EEO hiring compliance. The company is a leader in the field of providing accurate information about people through professional assessment. To learn more about EASI Consult, visit www.easiconsult.com, email [email protected] or call 800.922.EASI.