Studying for HCAHPS? What Florence Nightingale Would Have Said
March 5, 2012
Years ago, when I was in high school, studying for the test was far more common than teaching to the test. In fact, part of the challenge of preparing for a test was deciding which facts or problems were going to be included in the exam.
I would review my notes from class, books, and lectures. After pondering over these for hours, I would decide in the end that the best strategy was to know everything. Of course, “everything” was never asked. However, this made me both diligent and vigilant in my studies.
And so it is with HCAHPS, the newest “report card” for healthcare organizations. Patients are doing the grading this time. And, organizations are studying diligently, trying to hone in on what matters to patients in ways that can be reflected in the HCAHPS survey.
That the very existence and weight of the “test” is resulting in better outcomes is not a surprise, but is welcome as motivation for moving beyond what other regulatory standards have required.
The ability for a consumer-as-patient to compare hospitals in their own community, as is the case with HCAHPS, and have a voice in expressing what he or she has experienced, in many ways allows the words of Florence Nightingale again to be heeded.
In Notes on Nursing (1864), she wrote, “The symptoms or the sufferings generally considered to be inevitable and incident to the disease are very often not symptoms of the disease at all, but of something quite different—of the want of fresh air, or of light, or of warmth, or of quiet, or of cleanliness, or of punctuality and care in the administration of diet, of each or of all of these.”