Some hospitals question tying money to patient experience surveys

Some hospitals question whether the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid should be tying patient satisfaction surveys to financial incentives, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. 

The article states that the new payment system which went into effect on October 1, 2012, combines hospitals' patient-satisfaction scores with other measures including treatment for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia.   

Some hospitals are trying to boost scores by adding flat screen tvs, waterfalls in patient rooms and delivering newspapers to patient rooms.  Some hospitals feel that the questions on the survey may favor suburban hospitals, and negatively impact busy suburban hospitals that have long waits in the emergency room, but may do a great job of treating their patients.  Others note that a question on the survey regarding how well pain was controlled may conflict with an effort to get patients off powerful pain medications. 

CMS notes that the survey is a good indicator of the care patients receive as most questions have to do with communication. 

(Sources: The Advisory Board Daily Briefing, http://www.advisory.com, October 16, 2012; The Wall Street Journal, http://professional.wsj.com, October 14, 2012)