How hospitals rank on patient satisfaction

What Georgia city has the most-satisfied hospital patients?

A Kaiser Health News analysis of Medicare survey data found that the Rome region’s hospitals have produced the happiest patients in the state.

The hospitals in the northwest Georgia city’s market performed well nationally, ranking 12th among 295 regional hospital markets in the United States.

The rest of the state breaks down like this: Columbus region hospitals, 91; Augusta, 145; Atlanta, 167; Macon, 176; Savannah, 188; and Albany, 243. Here’s a link to the KHN chart.

Satisfaction scores soon will matter more than just as marketing fodder. The Kaiser Health News article noted that Medicare will begin taking patient satisfaction scores into account when reimbursing hospitals. Those with the best scores will be paid more.

The surveys went to both Medicare patients and those not in the federal health insurance program, randomly selected after their hospital stay was done.

Patients were asked questions in 10 categories, such as: Did doctors and nurses communicate well with them? Was their pain well controlled? Was their room clean and the hospital quiet at night? Did the staff give them instructions on what to do during their recovery at home?

With pay linked to satisfaction measures, some hospitals are worried that patients may be influenced not only by actual quality of care, ‘‘but also by amenities such as single rooms, renovated units and tasty food,’’ the Kaiser article said.

And regional differences could have an impact on ratings, experts note. In New York City, where people have the reputation of being assertive and finicky, patients might not rate hospitals as highly as in the South, where people may be more polite and uncomplaining.

Patient satisfaction scores are not a new thing, notes the Georgia Hospital Association.

“Take the Atlanta market, a very competitive hospital market, hospitals have been using patient satisfaction scores to compete with each other,’’ said Kevin Bloye, a GHA vice president.

But connecting these scores to payments “takes it to another level,’’ Bloye added.

Hospitals are working to improve patient services through their employment practices, he said, “making sure they are [hiring]  highly skilled caregivers who are excellent communicators and who relate well to patients.’’

And hospitals are also investing in amenities to improve the patient and family experience, he said.

For individual hospital satisfaction ratings, check out the Medicare Hospital Compare website.