HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, affects all aspects of healthcare delivery. Enacted to protect the privacy of patient data, HIPAA ensures that hospitals and other medical organizations keep their information systems and technologies compliant with these regulations. If your organization collects personal health information online, you risk fines (not to mention violating patient trust) if you don’t properly safeguard your data. We offer stringent safeguards to help you stay HIPAA-compliant if you enter a Business Associate Agreement.
The BOTTOM LINE is correct, patient satisfaction scores MUST BE taken with a grain of salt. Actually, a cupful would be more like it. HCAHPS is, IMHO, a farce. A Corporate Hospital that I worked for, that kept the religious affiliation of the founding group as its name, taught staff to utilize certain words of the English language regarding ‘quality and satisfaction’ of care when speaking with the patients (clients). Of particular note, these words and terms could be found in HCAHPS survey forms. Of special interest is, if I’m not mistaken in my reading of regulations pertaining to this marvelous tool of the federal idiocracy, it is illegal to prompt patients in this manner.
For the Federal Government to pay reimbursements, the patients are Medicare or Medicaid, and thus one must consider the source of the responses. More specifically, my experience has been that the entitlement mentality that often permeates the Medicaid cultural group is virtually never satisfied. (Perhaps a dose of work therapy would help.) And one more comment, a customer pays for services and goods, a consumer just consumes them. Play with that thought for a while and think about how you as a customer have to pay for services and goods that you receive and not on what you perceive them to be.
Getting on to the subject of eHRs/eMRs (electronic Medical/Health Records), one must remember that the same Government brain trust that brought you HCAHPS, brings you eHRs/eMRs. Where records must be made to be electronically retrievable. Ok, so we had three eMR systems in that hospital – one for ER, one for L&D, and the main one for inpatients. One problem, they did not talk to one another, so again everything needed to be printed up for transferring a patient from one of those care settings into another. I work in a small rural hospital and yet again, we are making paper copies of eMRs for transferring patients to other facilities. When you pass a law that is supposed aid in communicating HC data, shouldn’t you have set a standard that would require electronic capability for all eHRs/eMRs to be read on any system in the country.
Fortunately, some of us learned in the era of SOAPIER notes, paper, pen, and/or pencil, so when the time comes we can still take care of people and let others know what we have done. Most of us that have this skill also were blessed to have had teachers that taught us how to write legibly, use correct grammar, and how to spell correctly without spell-check or your friend and mine, auto-correct.
So, you can leave your trust in Government to guide and regulate you in charting your work, or next time you’re buying reams of printer paper and ink cartridges to ‘transcribe’ your patients’ eMR to send to another provider for inclusion in their “chart”, buy a pad of paper and a pencil and write a note on how you provided care in a SOAPIER format. Now, which one describes what happened best and how long did it take you to write vs your scribe to type. (Extra credit for correct grammar and spelling.)
Upali Nanda, associate AIA, EDAC, associate principal and director of research for HKS, says that while facility design alone cannot automatically raise HCAHPS scores, a systemic approach to facility projects that includes research and operational planning can contribute to a health care organization’s ability to provide excellent patient experiences. She notes that the patient's experience of care is ultimately based on human behavior, and quality design “can set the stage for that human behavior as best we can.”