Nash hospital sees patient experience scores rise

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ROCKY MOUNT — Nash UNC Health Care is seeing strong improvements in patient and family experience scores, monitored through a standardized survey of patients’ perspectives of hospital care.

“We are seeing notable improvements in our patient satisfaction scores, thanks to our renewed focus on patient and visitor experience in recent months,” said Dr. L. Lee Isley, president and CEO of Nash UNC Health Care.

When patients are discharged from the hospital or the emergency department, a survey is distributed by postal mail from Press Ganey, a third-party survey agency that administers surveys to hospital patients. The survey includes the standardized Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems measures for hospital care, which are used by hospitals to monitor trends, but are also used to generate star ratings and hospital grades on public reporting websites such as Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and The Leapfrog Group.

“Our top box score for ‘overall rating of the hospital’ is currently 68.3, up 10 points since February and showing a steady increase each month,” said Isley.

“Top Box Score” means only the highest response possible on the survey scale, such as “9” or “10” on a scale of 0-10, or “Yes,” “Definitely Yes” or “Always.” The Top Box Score is the percentage of patients who rate their experience as a 9 or 10.

“Most people are surprised to hear about the top box methodology,” Isley said. “Many tell me that when they are filling out surveys, they think that a 7 or 8 shows a job well done. But we only get credit for 9s and 10s, and everything below that counts as a zero,” he said. “So, while almost 70 percent of our responses are 9s and 10s, almost 20 percent of our responses are 8s. While 8s are perceived as good to the individual completing the form, they aren’t good enough to make our star ratings and public grades reflective of the excellent care we provide our patients.”

“Even more noteworthy, our overall rating of care in the Emergency Department is currently 85.3, the highest score since 2015,” said Isley.

Nash UNC Health Care’s Emergency Department has made improvements in a number of patient service indicators in recent months, said Chief Nursing Officer Dr. Crystal Hayden.

“The Door to Provider time is how long it takes for a patient to get from the front door or by ambulance to being evaluated by a medical provider. We are consistently achieving this in under 30 minutes, which is the national average. A year ago, the wait was over 60 minutes. We have made steady improvements and have cut that time in half,” she said. “Similarly, we track closely the number of patients who come to the Emergency Department but leave before they are evaluated by a provider. We are consistently performing better than the national benchmark of 2 percent of patients leaving before being seen.”

Hayden explains that wait times are often the main point of frustration for patients, and that the organization continues to work on improving patient flow.

“By placing a medical provider in the triage area, we are able to get our patients evaluated quickly and for the provider to start ordering tests and providing treatment,” she said. “During recent surges in volume, we have placed priority on keeping people informed and comfortable during their wait.”

Additionally, the Pediatric Emergency Department continues to receive positive feedback from patients and families. Specifically, Nash beats national benchmarks in measures of how quickly patients are seen by a doctor, how well pain is controlled and how well staff prepare patients and families for home care.

Other measures the hospital is seeing improve are Communication with Nurses, Communication about Medications and Staff Responsiveness.

Isley explains that improved teamwork and morale are contributing to the success.

“We are working hard on changing our internal culture to be more supportive of each other and wholly focused on the patient experience,” he said. “We are seeing those cultural changes take hold, which are being noticed and appreciated by patients and visitors. That’s our goal — to provide top-notch health care in a compassionate manner that makes the patient and their visitors appreciate their experience at Nash.”