April 18—Although patient satisfaction is an important indicator of a hospital’s service quality, satisfaction scores from a standard survey do not necessarily reflect the quality of surgical care that patients receive, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery.

For the study, researchers from Johns Hopkins University medical and public health schools compared the performance of 31 U.S. hospitals on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey as well as their compliance with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Surgical Care Improvement Program and scores from the employee Safety Attitudes Questionnaire.

Results showed no link between patient satisfaction scores and surgical care quality scores, although the researchers did find a correlation between patient satisfaction scores and employees’ feelings about the teamwork and safety climate in their hospital.

The researchers concluded that, although the patient satisfaction metric may be easy to apply, it doesn’t appear to be a comprehensive measure of overall quality, particularly for procedure-based care such as surgery.

HFMA Analysis: Through comment letters (in June and October 2012), HFMA has urged the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reevaluate tying hospital payments to HCAHPS survey results through the value-based payment program. Although HFMA believes that measures of patient satisfaction and engagement are important (as evidenced by the fact that most, if not all, hospitals track measures of patient satisfaction beyond HCAHPS), a strong correlation to positive clinical outcomes should be established before HCAHPS is used to determine provider payments.

Publication Date: Thursday, April 18, 2013