The Health and Care Affordability and Care Quality Act of 1996 established the Health and Care Condition Assessment Cohort (HCAC) to provide health insurance benefits to those who may not otherwise obtain coverage. The Health and Care Reform Act of 1996 also established the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). Both are designed to support the common good in the United States. The primary objectives include:
The development of universal health care coverage.
Raising the quality of care provided by hospitals and other health care providers.
Reducing the health care costs of the nation as a whole.
What follows is an introduction to two of the essential metrics used to gauge healthcare institutions’ performance.
The primary measure of the HCAHPS scores is hospital charges. This is measured against several different standards, including the percentages of patients who received hospital transports, stayed for a minimum number of days, and so on. Hospital charges can be compared across different medical specialties and hospitals. Patient communication The average percentage charge across all hospitals is then compared to all United States orders’ benchmark mean to determine the HCAHPS score.
The two metrics included in the Health and Care Condition Assessment Cohort are patient care outcomes. These are measured against several different benchmarks, including the number of emergency room visits, several days patient stayed in the hospital, length of time patient remained in the hospital, the percentage of days patient was discharged from the hospital, the rate of days patient received Medicare or Medicaid, and the health literacy rating of the patient. Healthcare institutions are also tested on their level of preparedness for emergencies and disasters. This includes how well emergency preparedness kits are stocked and operated, how well nurses, doctors, and staff are trained in response to health emergencies, and how well patient information systems are maintained. All of these services and benchmarks are then combined to produce a final score.
By law, healthcare institutions must report on their HCAHPS Scores at least once a year to the applicable government agency. While many medical professionals believe that the reporting requirements are not strict enough, there is no legal definition of when a healthcare measure is considered complete. If a healthcare facility fails to report its score for several consecutive years, the entity may lose its certification from the Council of Affordable Quality Healthcare or CAQH. Even if CAQH does not drop a healthcare entity, they may be required to undergo credit and audit audits by other agencies.
The third important indicator of HCAHPS scores is patient satisfaction. To collect this data, healthcare institutions collect information about patients’ attitudes and experiences and the quality of care provided by staff. Perspectives and experiences were rated using several different aspects:
Patient encounters with staff
Accessibility of services and products
Overall satisfaction with care
Patient attitudes toward physicians and staff
Some suggestions for improvement in care were also given, if present.
Another essential element to consider in understanding the meaning of the score is whether patient safety is a concern. Patients and healthcare professionals at hospitals are often afraid to go to the hospital to fear infectious diseases, germs, and dangerous conditions. Hospitals want to ensure that patients feel safe and comfortable when visiting their facility-if a score is low, they want to do everything possible to improve it. Some suggestions given by the authors include adding locking areas and closing doors when patients visit for the first time; educating visitors about personal hygiene and providing sanitary conditions; and keeping track of visitors’ keys and using them only when necessary. This last point is critical, as some patients are hesitant to leave their homes to visit the hospital.