In the era of Yelp, Facebook and online forums, where patients can report anything at all to the Googling masses; where your competitive advantage partially rests on patients’ perceptions of your listening, caring and respect, gathering detailed, objective, comprehensive and actionable accounts of patient experiences are even more important than ever. The usual research methods of focus groups, surveys family councils and rounding, etc., help in various ways, but they don’t tell the whole story of the patient experience. To do that requires a very special kind of knowledge and insight that can only be acquired through multiple and comprehensive patient experience accounts or exhaustive direct observation of people and processes. It’s why service industries such as hotels, airlines and restaurants use Mystery Shoppers to evaluate the customer experience. Today, mystery shopping is a 2 billion dollar plus industry. However, only a small amount is healthcare’s share, perhaps because its methods, benefits, opportunities and/or perceived threats are not widely understood. Whether that may be changing is unclear.
The New Year brings a new change in the way DRG reimbursement is distributed. The reimbursement implications are significant, and many hospitals either have lost or will lose much needed federal funding, or collect sizeable incentive payments.
Which outcome will your hospital achieve?
As you know, one factor that determines whether your hospital receives an incentive payment or gets hit with a reduction in DRG reimbursement is inpatient satisfaction. That’s because Medicare’s Value Based Purchasing Program weighs inpatient satisfaction as 30% of a hospital’s performance score.
For this year, up to 1% of DRG reimbursement was at stake at underperforming hospitals. Next year, the percentage increases to 1.25% and increases again in 2017 to 2%. Even if yours is considered a top-performing hospital in its region, its DRG reimbursement may still be at risk because your facility is now being compared to the top 5% of ALL hospitals, with rolling benchmarks.
In anticipation of this change, hospital executives have been retraining staff and revising policies and processes with the goal of improving quality and increasing patient satisfaction at their facilities. Perhaps that’s what you’ve done, too.
Long gone are the days when nursing applicants were the only ones that needed to create favorable first impressions during interviews.
With demand for qualified nurses exceeding supply, the tables have turned. Nowadays, qualified nursing applicants have many options when choosing where they want to spend their working hours. So, in order to attract “the best of the best,” your nurse recruitment team and processes must also impress potential applicants.
As always, nursing applicants want information about the job, the pay, and the benefits. But today’s applicants are looking beyond facts and figures to find the “right fit” when evaluating job options. Believe it or not, their initial impressions about a potential employer are often influenced by simple, subtle details such as how a staff member handles their calls, how long they’re made to wait for a response, and how communication is handled before, during and after an interview.
At all times, staff convey important messages about your organization’s culture, operations, and attitudes toward employees, physicians, patients or residents. Positive messages can influence potential applicants to choose your organization over a competitor’s.
With today’s seniors finding it difficult to sell their homes at a profit—or at all—many have postponed the decision to move into a retirement or assisted living community. Yet there hasn’t been a corresponding reduction in retirement living options. When supply outpaces demand, prospective residents and their families can be choosier.
Anemic housing market fuels competition
With so much competition, every retirement and assisted living community must have energetic, enthusiastic, highly skilled, and well trained “sales” staff who can communicate carefully crafted messages about their facilities. They must also leave no stone unturned when prospecting, presenting, handling objections, and closing.
Chances are, you’ve spent considerable time implementing policies and procedures for hiring and training staff to do all of this and more. But once you’ve done your job, how can you be sure that your sales team is doing their job? Even with periodic or regular mystery shopping, you may not be aware of a serious sales or marketing problem until months go by and your sales staff miss their numbers. By that time you may have already have lost a significant number of prospects to your competition.
A few weeks ago I had a medical emergency and ended up being a direct admit to the hospital. I arrived at the Emergency Department in the evening and was discharged 26 hours later with a camera in my small intestine. I’m happy to say that all the testing indicates that there is nothing seriously wrong. It’s just some kind of blood vessel malformation that I’ve probably had all my life.
But the experience hit home an important lesson to me: It’s very different being a “real” patient than a “mystery” patient. As a “real” patient I didn’t feel inclined to make notes of any encounters or events. As a result, I can’t remember everything that happened or who I met during the visit; what went through my head as I was processed through registration, triage, testing, admission to the nursing unit, more testing and the inevitable waiting.