Guest Post: Increase HCAHPS Scores Through Healthcare Design

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
This post was written by Rebecca Donner

Improving HCAHPS scores from an interior design perspective.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey was established as a way to measure patients’ perspectives on healthcare and make comparisons across hospitals based on the patient experience. Receiving a high score can boost hospitals’ Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement, while a low score can decrease funding by as much as 2 percent. Because HCAHPS scores can affect a hospital’s bottom line, it provides an incentive for them to place a greater focus on patient experience to receive a high score.

There a number of ways to increase a HCAHPS score, including patient communication and respect, speediness, cleanliness and even pain management procedures. But one way that may be overlooked is how to raise that score through interior design. There are a number of ways to approach HCAHPS scores from a design perspective.

Noise Reduction

With so much commotion in hospitals, it can be difficult for patients to rest, which is a key component to the healing process. Standard noise levels should be 35 dB(A) during the day and 30 d(B)A at night, but peak noise levels in hospitals often exceed 85 to 90 db(A), according to the Center for Health Design.

Aside from limiting overhead announcements and machine beeping, hospitals can reduce noise by focusing on the materials they use inside their facility. Carpet tiles or rubber flooring, as opposed to tile, can reduce the noise of foot traffic outside patient rooms. In addition, acoustic wall coverings and ceiling tiles act as giant sonic sponges, soaking up unwanted noise and echo. This can prevent any loud conversations or unwanted noises from traveling down hallways.

Privacy

Privacy and comfort rank high in ways to improve patient experience. According to the 2016 Hospital Construction Survey, many hospitals are now converting semi-private rooms into private rooms to increase patient privacy. After all, no one wants to share a room with a stranger during what can be one of the scariest times in someone’s life. Plus, two patients in a room can increase the chance of infection.

Many hospitals are also increasing the square footage of patient rooms. This way, even if two patients are sharing a room, they each have plenty of private space.

Personal Controls

To make the hospital feel like home as much as possible, many facilities are now offering patients greater control over the lighting, temperature and window shades in their rooms. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to how warm or cool, or how dark or bright, they want a room to be. Personal dimming controls allow patients to adjust the lighting depending on their activity, whether they are trying to sleep or need extra light for reading or examinations. Giving patients control over these variables can lead to higher patient satisfaction.

Mobility

Hospitals with high mobility and accessibility receive higher HCAHPS scores. Installing handrails makes it easier for patients to get to the bathroom, and wide bathrooms give patients the space they need when using the facilities.

About the Author:

Rebecca Donner

Rebecca Donner

Rebecca Donner is the owner and founder of Nashville-based healthcare interior design firm Inner Design Studio. For more information.

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