More and more, healthcare organizations are opting to implement CG-CAHPS surveys in advance of a CMS mandate, yet many remain uncertain about how to improve CG-CAHPS scores prior to the launch of public reporting.
As early adopters understand, improving scores before public reporting begins can make a difference in how the public ultimately views an organization’s quality of service and care. While achieving significant improvement is usually not easy, with the right support and resources in place, early adopters can attain robust scores on their CG-CAHPS surveys before they become a metric upon which the public will rely in making care decisions.
When clients ask us how they can improve their CG-CAHPS survey scores, we first work with them to identify their key opportunities, and then we make evidence-based recommendations on how to address their specific areas for improvement. The following are three areas that often challenge healthcare organizations, as well as practices we recommend for beginning to address them:
1. Physician Communication – This CG-CAHPS survey composite assesses the patient’s experience regarding communication with the physician who provided care, encompassing the adequacy of the time spent with the patient, coverage of important topics, and the patient’s ability to understand what has been said. Several best practices for improving Physician Communication scores include:
- Involving patients in a Patient Experience Steering Team
- Collaborating with patients to identify the five most important behaviors contributing to a positive impression of physician communication
- Providing “teach back” communication training or coaching to physicians
2. Access to Care – This CG-CAHPS survey composite measures patients’ perspectives regarding their ability to make appointments and receive care when it is needed, a particular challenge for groups with large patient panels. One prominent Avatar client has improved their performance in this area by:
- Removing variability by standardizing appointment types and slots
- Committing to returning all patient messages the same day
- Implementing a Team Care Model
- Using Third Next Available Appointment (TNAA) as a key success indicator
3. Courtesy & Respect – In the fast-paced practice environment, staff members may understandably forget to place particular emphasis on the courtesy and respect they extend to patients. However, this area naturally has a powerful impact on the overall satisfaction of consumers, and proven strategies for supporting a culture of courtesy and respect should be leveraged. Recommended practices include:
- The 10-4 Rule: If the person is within 10 feet, make eye contact with them; if they are less than 4 feet away, speak with them.
- Constructing an internal scorecard emphasizing key focus areas
- Immediately greeting/acknowledging the patient and family. If you can’t immediately serve them, let them know you will be with them soon.
By utilizing these and other recommended methods as a starting point for supporting a positive patient experience, early adopters of CG-CAHPS surveys can begin approaching their improvement goals before the launch of public reporting.