Do you remember the “snap, crackle and pop” ads when you were a kid? If you just poured the milk on the cereal and put your ear close to the bowl you could hear the “snap, crackle and pop” described by little jumping elves. So you poured your milk and you LISTENED.
HCAPS are intended to be about listening. HCAPS has an impressive full name; Hospital Consumers Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, it is a survey designed by government agencies to seek feedback from patients about the care they receive in the hospital.
The survey is voluntary and asks 27 questions ranging from how well pain is managed, is the place clean, and how well did the doctors and nurses listen to you and answer your questions. It is a grand idea. Like all surveys HCAPS has flaws with sample sizes and the natural bias that is built into asking people how satisfied they are with the service that has been provided.
If we ask people about their experience in the hospital the healthcare teams are suppose to listen to the response and seek greater understanding of how they can improve the care. Here is the big challenge for clinicians, hospital administrators AND patients alike.
How do we use the information to improve care and enhance learning? Patients and families are not “off the hook”. Safe healthcare sets an expectation that patients are active participants in the care…. not passive recipients of a service! Healthcare is/should be teamwork and patients are part of the team.
Patients must be willing to partner in the process by asking questions, seeking all the information they need to make informed decisions, and take part in their Plan of Care.
Hospital teams need to know what patients think about the care they received in order to make meaningful changes within the organization. The danger is that hospitals may react to survey scores rather than using that information to create environments of healing centered on patients.
Scores alone do not make a hospital safe and caring…they are simply one of the tools that can be used to guide ongoing improvement. Patients are integral to this process and if they become informed 21st Century Patients engaged with the clinical team our hospitals will move rapidly toward environments of care because their “customers” expect it.
Lisa Sams MSN, RNC
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