CMS has played a significant role in emphasizing positive patient experience, notably by tying incentive payments in the Value-Based Purchasing program to patient satisfaction scores. But to what extent have these policy decisions actually improved the patient experience? According to one group of researchers, not much.
In a study published in the latest issue of Health Affairs, a research team explained that the CMS focus on patient experience scores was born from an effort to improve overall clinical quality, but incremental improvements in scoring metrics have recently leveled off.
“Although focusing on patient experience has been controversial, the bulk of the evidence suggests that high performance on these measures is associated with high performance in other areas of quality, such as clinical processes, patients’ adherence to prevention and treatment, and even health outcomes,” the research team explained.
“Consequently, patients’ perceptions of their health care experiences are increasingly being used as a measure of provider performance in public reporting and pay-for-performance programs.”
The agency’s move to tie parts of VBP payments to CAHPS scores began in 2011. Since then, little work has been done to understand the extent to which this policy decision affected patient experience in hospitals nationwide, the researchers said.