How Secure Messaging Can Save Your HCAHPS Scores

Hospitals and Health Systems

November 20, 2019
A picture of a pen laying on a clipboard - the clipboard has a paper that says "HCAHPS".

Increasingly, hospital administration is allocating resources toward the results of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys, and for good reason. Scores from these surveys are an important, publicly available indicator of patient experience and care quality. As such, these scores are used to determine up to 30% of the total incentive offered to hospitals under the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (HVBP) program.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) promotes the use of transparent ratings enabling consumers seeking healthcare services to choose high-quality care. Many of these measures directly impact hospital reimbursement through programs such as the HVBP program.

Better Scores Attract Patients and Increase Revenue

Patients are able to access and use this data to make better-informed healthcare decisions when seeking care because these quality measures, including HCAHPS scores, are made available on the CMS Hospital Compare website. This provides a tremendous opportunity for hospitals to gain a competitive edge over others within their catchment area because healthcare consumers may interpret higher scores as synonymous with better care.

Considering that the majority of patients measure the quality of care based on their hospital care experience, developing and nurturing a culture in which quality measures, such as interpersonal and communication skills is, now, more important than ever. In fact, today, the importance of quality measures is on par with most hospital patient services.

For the Patient, Better Communication Equates to Better Care

Several key drivers of the HCAHPS survey are patient experience around communication with both nurses and providers, and the communication around their pain management. The advent of secure messaging has opened the door for hospital care teams to more effectively identify and respond to negative patient perception regarding clear, timely and effective communication.

Many hospitals are combating communication gaps related to patient care and involvement by utilizing communication methods that enable quick, accessible, HIPAA-compliant sharing of patient information. Hospital Administration teams that allocate resources toward improving communication among care teams see improved HCAHPS scores because patients tend to report better care experiences due to improved communication with and among their care team.

Patient Privacy is Paramount

Healthcare administration may be presented with a variety of methods that could improve patient experience scores; however, compliance with patient privacy and care delivery regulations cannot be overlooked. Of primary concern to patients and hospital administration is the protection of personal information. When hospital care teams are communicating between themselves, external care teams, and the patient, privacy is an important consideration. In fact, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) requires the protection of patient health information. So, while HCAHPS survey data provides critical insight into the patient experience that enables a competitive edge and greater CMS reimbursement, the methods used to improve patient experience and, therefore, HCAHPS scores may present risks.

Real World Access

To achieve the top HCAHPS quartile or decile standing, hospitals may commit to daily nurse-leader rounding programs enabling face-to-face patient interactions that glean opportunities for service recoveries and thus, opportunities to improve survey scores. Nurse leaders now have direct access to physicians via secure messaging that may provide them an almost immediate resolution to patient concerns.

For example, without secure messaging, a patient that desires a quick discharge may be forced to wait until their physician receives final test results and is physically available to facilitate the discharge. This can create frustration on the part of the patient who may perceive poor communication and unnecessary delays. A hospital that has implemented secure messaging, by contrast, enables proactive, up-to-the-minute information-sharing. In this scenario, the discharge is not delayed because the discharging provider receives test results and nursing assessments via secure messaging in real-time, significantly reducing time spent in the discharge process and increasing the patient’s perception of streamlined, effective communication.

A second example proving the value of secure messaging to increase patient experience scores relates to pain management communication. Secure messaging offers nurses a platform to provide better patient pain management through easier access to physicians. Nurses are able to quickly communicate a request for face-to-face collaboration to modify a patient’s pain management strategy, which reduces the time the patient experiences excessive pain. Utilizing secure messaging in this way, greatly enhances the patient experience.

A Uniquely Powerful Solution

QliqSOFT knows your clinicians are already texting one another and has developed an easy-to-implement secure texting tool that integrates with healthcare organization Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. Qliq secure texting is unique in many ways and powerful in its simplicity.

  • Users are able to easily and securely send messages and file attachments while adhering to all of the HIPAA Privacy and Security Rules. Additionally, Qliq exceeds the security requirements of HIPAA and provides security advantages not found in other secure messaging solutions.
  • QliqSTOR timestamps and archives searchable user messages and attachments behind your firewall keeping you in control.
  • Each Qliq user has a unique public/private “key pair” encryption that can only be decrypted by the intended user, which decreases potential exposure.
  • Qliq’s Cloud Pass-Thru architecture sends messages directly from one Qliq user to another without storing or decrypting any message content on a server other than your own, which reduces the risk of a data breach.
  • Qliq remote lock and data wipe capabilities should a device go missing or a breach is detected.

You Can Influence and Protect HCAHPS Scores

With Streamlined, secure texting on your care team’s own devices they are able to reach one another at any time from any location and maintain HIPAA compliance via Android, Apple iPhone iOS and desktop app.

  • On-Call Physician Communication
  • Share Diagnostic Images
  • Patient Care Coordination
  • More Efficient Consults
  • Replace Pagers and Paging Systems
  • Improve patient experience and satisfaction

Scores of 9 and 10 are the gold standard for HCAHPS surveys. Appointing scores is the sole discretion of the patient and the perception of their care delivery experience drives their response. Hospital care teams depend on tools and processes that enable best-in-class patient care experience, yet ensure patient information is protected. The delivery of great care and improved outcomes can be quickly erased by a data breach or the patient’s perception of poor communication. Secure messaging enables streamlined, effective care delivery and patient privacy, both of which increase HCAHPS survey scores.

Qliq Here to find out more about how the QliqSOFT Secure Texting Solution can improve your HCAHPS survey scores.

The Author
Ben Henson

A lifelong communicator, this Tennessee native got his start in broadcast news before branching out into public media, corporate, communications, digital advertising, and integrated marketing. Prior to joining QliqSOFT as the company's first marketing team member, Ben shared his talents with organizations that include the University of Alabama, iHeartMedia, and The Kroger Company.

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