The Bayonet

Wednesday, Mar. 06, 2013

Surveys affect funding

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Patients of Martin Army Community Hospital can help the hospital gain additional funding by giving the hospital positive reviews on a patient satisfaction survey.

The Army Provider Level Satisfaction Survey is mailed to patients who are randomly selected.

Based on the number of surveys returned and the responses MACH receives, the hospital could earn more money, or if the responses are negative, lose funding.

“Health care in general is going toward an accountable care model where Medicare and insurance companies are starting to pay hospitals based on how well they perform,” said Capt. Kim Decker, chief of MACH’s Healthcare Management Division. “In the military, we’ve kind of led the charge with patient satisfaction. We’ve really made an effort to be accountable to our patients and to work on the quality of care.”

While there are many questions on the survey, the questions that are directly tied to hospital funding are questions concerning how well patients rate the hospital’s overall phone service, the amount of time between the scheduling of a hospital visit and the visit itself, the courtesy and helpfulness of the staff and a patient’s overall satisfaction with their visit.

The APLSS surveys are issued to patients of all military treatment facilities. Responses help to determine acceptable levels of performance, broken down into five tiers.

If a treatment facility is rated in the bottom 82.5 percent in the categories of phone service, time between scheduling and the visit or staff courtesy and helpfulness, the treatment facility loses $100 per survey.

If a treatment facility is rated in the top 15 percent or above in those categories, the facility can gain additional funding, which escalates up to $100 per survey for being rated in the top 12.5 percent.

For the survey question on overall visit satisfaction, facilities can lose $500 for each survey in which the response is in the bottom 86 percent.

The opportunity to gain additional funding for overall visit satisfaction begins at $100 per survey if the overall visit is rated in the top 11 percent, and increases to $500 per survey if the response is in the top 5 percent.

From August 2012 to December 2012, survey responses cost MACH a total of $302,900. In the year preceding that, MACH lost a total of $1,208,600 based on the surveys.

MACH has consistently lost money on the phone service, time between scheduling and visit and staff courtesy and helpfulness categories, while maintaining consistent high ratings, which have helped to offset some of the funding losses, in overall visit satisfaction.

Terry Beckwith, MACH chief of public affairs, said the survey responses show there are issues that the hospital needs to address.

However, she said patients should raise these concerns with the hospital directly before leaving their appointment.

“What would we like each patient to do is before they leave the hospital, talk to someone to let them know what their concerns are,” Beckwith said. “The patients need to have a two-way discussion with us. If they aren’t happy with something, they need to let us know instead of going home and waiting a couple of days and then dinging us on the survey.

“A lot of times we can make corrections there at the hospital while the patient is still there.”

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