HCAHPS refresh? Where does digital health fit in?

March 23, 2022 |
March 23, 2022

When the first Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare, Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey rolled out 20 years ago, it marked a significant milestone as the first national, standardized, publicly reported survey to measure patients’ perspectives on healthcare. And for two decades, HCAHPS has done an adequate job of measuring patients’ experiences with their doctors, nurses, the care environment, and overall hospital satisfaction.

But what worked for patient satisfaction measurement in 2002 doesn’t even come close to capturing the new realities of today’s digital-fueled patient experience. Just ask Press Ganey. Last year, they surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults to learn more about their preferences and expectation for healthcare in the modern era. A few highlights:

  • Patients rely on digital resources 2.2 times more than provider referrals when choosing a primary care provider
  • 84% of consumers won’t see a referred provider if they rate under four stars
  • Consumers rank customer service (70.8%) and communication (63.4%) as more important than bedside manner
  • 63% of consumers prefer to book an appointment digitally vs. on the phone
  • Factors such as telemedicine (up 81%), ease of intake (up 37%) and communication (up 28%) saw notable increases as key drivers of patient loyalty from 2019 – 2021

In summary, Press Ganey says, “A consumer’s definition of patient experience is not limited to the clinical or care setting. When patients evaluate their overall satisfaction with a healthcare brand, they consider every touchpoint in their journey, including online interactions.”

So, is it time for an HCAHPS refresh?

With digital health now impacting so many aspects of a patient’s interaction with a hospital or health system—including many items that happen before and after the actual care experience—why are we still only asking patients questions about hands-on care and bedside manner?

It’s true that HCAHPS still plays a vital role in protecting patient safety and determining Medicare reimbursement rates for hospitals. But the rapid change in the way patients interact with health systems calls for more robust consumer feedback about their digital preferences and online customer service. According to stats cited by Press Ganey:

  • 60% of patients start their search for care online
  • 40% rely on online reviews to inform their decisions
  • 80% still look at online patient reviews before booking an appointment, even after a word-of-mouth recommendation

And with health systems and hospitals facing increased pressure from the retail sector—including virtual and in-person clinics from digital-first behemoths like Amazon—measuring every aspect of the entire patient experience is more critical than ever.

How can hospitals and health systems accurately measure the digital patient experience?

The reality is very few hospitals and health systems do an adequate job of measuring digital health in 2022. So, hospitals and health systems that do so now can capture leading-edge insights that will improve their overall digital patient experience and put them well ahead of the pack.

The good news is that Press Ganey does allow hospitals to add some customized questions to their surveys. But to make those happen, all of a health system’s internal stakeholders must agree upon each question they wish to add. That’s why we recommend that health systems take a holistic approach to digital health.

If you’re able to achieve buy-in and add questions to Press Ganey, here are a few potential digital health-related queries to ask:

  • How easy was it to schedule an appointment (scale of 0 – 10)?
  • How did you schedule (online, phone, on which device)?
  • How easily could you find information and ratings about our providers (scale of 0 – 10)?
  • Did the provider’s star rating influence your decision to book an appointment?
  • For in-person visits: How easily were you able to access your provider’s office (scale of 0 – 10)?
  • For virtual visits: How easy was accessing your telehealth visit (scale of 0 -10)?
  • How would you rate your digital health journey before care (scale of 0-10)?
  • How would you rate your digital health journey aftercare (scale of 0-10)?

 How to meet today’s new digital health realities

More than half (54%) of consumers surveyed by Press Ganey say they prefer the convenience of mobile when shopping for care. That’s why today’s savviest hospitals and health systems are

Looking for options that can integrate their best point solutions across different care zones to create an intuitive, one-of-a-kind mobile experience. One hospital that’s succeeded: Baptist Health Corbin, which was recently recognized by Becker’s Hospital Review as one of only 14 hospitals in Kentucky to be named “best hospitals for patient experience.” They revolutionized their patient engagement with a unified digital front door experience.

Remember, while evaluating and investigating your patient engagement solutions are important, so is discussing how you wish to evaluate and capture data about your patients’ perceptions and satisfaction with your overall digital health strategy. The DeliverHealth platform easily integrates point solutions across six different care zones—pre-visit, on-the-way, in-the-visit, financial, continuing care, and loyalty—to drive patient engagement and deliver better health outcomes. Let us show you how.