Patient Satisfaction Key to New ACCO, Readmissions Reductions Program

Friday, March 8th, 2013
This post was written by Cheryl Miller

The movement to improve patient satisfaction continues, with a new ACCO, a not so new solution for newly discharged emergency patients, and a continued investment in employees’ health and wellness.

The Rhode Island-based Lifespan and UnitedHealthcare have launched an Accountable Coordinated Care Organization (ACCO) will include Lifespan’s acute care hospitals and physicians who will provide coordinated care to about 21,000 people in Rhode Island who are enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s employer-sponsored benefit plans. Designed to enable across the board communication among physicians to improve care and satisfaction, its emphasis will be on outcome-based payments, rather than reimbursement based solely on volume of services delivered.

And a simple phone call post-discharge could keep rising readmissions rates at bay. A patient satisfaction survey from Kaiser Permanente Medical Center of more than 1000 patients newly discharged from the ER found that those who received a follow-up email or phone from their emergency physician were nearly 90 percent satisfied with their hospital stay; as opposed to an 80 percent satisfaction rating from those who did not hear from their emergency physicians after they left the hospital. The implications for high satisfaction scores are wide ranging; they can lead to better patient compliance, improved discharge plans, smoother care transitions and higher staff morale, researchers note.

In news guaranteed to satisfy patients invested in their own well being, corporate employers are spending nearly double on health incentives than they spent in 2009, according to a new employer survey conducted by Fidelity Investments® and the National Business Group on Health (NBGH).

Employers plan to spend an average of $521 per employee this year, an increase of 13 percent from the average of $460 reported for 2011, and double what they spent on employees in 2009, or $260 per person. Employees who participate in these programs can expect to see popular incentives such as reduced health premiums, gym memberships, and cash or gift cards. And a majority of employees may also be able to extend the incentive to their families: more than half of survey respondents said they will expand their wellness-based incentives to their employees’ dependents, and almost half (49 percent) plan to include spouses/dependents in communications about wellness programs.

And in other news, patient satisfaction could be one of the long range goals of a recent survey analyzing how our key healthcare leaders approach the industry.

According to a survey from Kaiser Permanente’s Institute for Health Policy, physicians, health reporters and policymakers differ significantly in the way they talk about health issues that impact Americans. Overall, physicians prioritize health education, while members of the media are more focused on the business of health, and members of Congress more in step with the legislative, judicial, and administrative policies of health. If Americans are to be properly educated, however, these three groups need to better aligned in their public conversations.

These stories and more in this week’s issue of the Healthcare Business Weekly Update.

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