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Healthgrades: communication, patient experience sway recommendations

Doctor and nurse communication are among the top patient experience issues that predict whether a patient will recommend a hospital to others.

Hospitals and health systems working to build a better reputation should focus on patient-provider communication, according to Healthgrades, which extrapolated insights about the overall patient experience by looking at the nation’s leading practices.

These insights, published as part of the Healthgrades 2024 Outstanding Patient Experience Award and Patient Safety Excellence Award, may help healthcare organizations better understand how they can cultivate an overall better clinical and interpersonal experience for patients.

Healthgrades identified the 388 Outstanding Patient Experience awardees by looking at HCAHPS patient survey data for 10 patient experience measures. Those hospitals recognized are among the top 15 percent of US hospitals for patient experience during the January 2022 to December 2022 assessment period.

When looking more closely at these organizations, Healthgrades was able to determine what sets them apart from the others: top-notch communication.

The three patient experience ratings that best predicted whether patients would recommend a hospital to their friends and families—an experience metric most organizations look at when working to build a good reputation and bigger market share—include doctor communication, nurse communication, and clear communication about care when discharged.

In addition to the Outstanding Patient Experience Award, Healthgrades recognized 444 hospitals with the Patient Safety Excellence Award. Healthgrades determined the awards using inpatient MedPAR data about 13 patient safety indicators (PSIs) representing a preventable complication.

Awardees, which represent the top 10 percent of evaluated hospitals, are key leaders in patient safety, Healthgrades said. Had all hospitals nationwide performed similarly to awardees, the industry could have avoided more than 97,000 patient safety events between 2020 and 2022.

More specifically, Healthgrades said patients treated at recipient hospitals were 52 percent less likely to experience an in-hospital fall resulting in fracture, 56 percent less likely to experience a collapsed lung due to a procedure or surgery in or around the chest, 67 percent less likely to experience pressure sores or bed sores acquired in the hospital, and 71 percent less likely to experience catheter-related bloodstream infections acquired in the hospital.

Although patient safety is part in parcel of a good healthcare experience, Healthgrades pointed out that it’s somewhat rare for hospitals to be top performers in both. Only 79 hospitals received both the patient safety and patient experience awards.

These findings come as the industry continues to reassess patient safety. Nearly 25 years since the publication of To Err is Human, the seminal work outlining the patient safety crisis looming over healthcare, the industry is working its way back after the pandemic halted progress.

Moving into 2024, patient safety group ECRI has advised healthcare providers to look closely at workforce challenges, including the transition of clinicians from academic training to clinical practice, as key patient safety challenges. Access to maternal and perinatal care, unintended consequences of technology adoption, and the complexity of preventing diagnostic error should also be top-of-mind, the group said.

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