By Melissa Maranda, MBA, PHR
Have you ever gone to a restaurant where the service was lackluster and you were charged for every little thing — even 10 cents for the doggie bag? You waited 30 minutes for a server to acknowledge you had been seated. It took an hour for the food to come out, and then it was cold. The server forgot a portion of your order and took another 20 minutes to bring it out. And at the end of the meal, you were handed a check for $300, when you feel like it should have been $20 based on your experience.
As a healthcare consumer, you may have had a similar experience when seeing a physician. A visit to the emergency department meant five hours in the waiting room, then another hour in the examination room before you saw the doctor (who just sat behind a computer and barely came to the bedside). Then you waited another two hours for labs to come back — all while not really knowing how long the wait would be or when the doctor would be back to see you. And when the encounter was over, you received a lovely bill for $3,000.
While it's always been important to keep patients at the center of care, hospitals can no longer afford poor (or even mediocre) service. As mandated by the Affordable Care Act, Medicare now factors HCAHPS into the incentive payments distributed under its Hospital Value-Based Purchasing (HVBP) program. And just as Yelp made it difficult for sub-par restaurants to fly under the radar, the Medicare Hospital Compare website allows consumers to compare facilities' HCAHPS scores and performance metrics — and spend their healthcare dollars accordingly.
So with these new requirements and incentives, how do hospitals make the patient experience top-notch and the patient feel like the $3,000 bill they received was a bargain for the service and experience they had? One low-cost (and often overlooked) solution is to incorporate medical scribes into the care team.