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Patient satisfaction to play a role in Medicare reimbursements

Beginning next year, patient satisfaction will dictate how much money hospitals are reimbursed for their care.
Beginning next year, patient satisfaction will dictate how much money hospitals are reimbursed for their care.
Anoto AB (cc by-nc-nd)

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Starting next year, a provision in the Affordable Care Act mandates that Medicare reimbursements will be based on patient satisfaction surveys, as well as other quality of care criteria. If patients say they got great care, the hospital gets more money back from the feds. But if hospitals get negative reviews they’ll see reduced revenue.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the governmental group overseeing the plan, says this is an historic switch from quantity based reimbursements to quality based. They say the new measures will improve patient care and cut down on costs by holding health care providers accountable for how they treat patients.

However, those in the medical profession aren't so sure. Hospital administrators are worried that they'll lose much needed funds because of a couple of disgruntled or hard to please patients ... something over which they have little control.

It could be a big problem for some of the most well-known hospitals here in Southern California. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, for example, gets low marks on the government's Survey of Patients' Hospital Experiences even as they get stellar scores in clinical care by other measures.

Experts say the disconnect could be because people have higher expectations of these hospitals, or they may have longer stays, which usually result in lower satisfaction levels.


If that's the case, will the government's new plan unfairly punish local hospitals for uncontrollable circumstances? Do patient satisfaction surveys provide the real picture of how hospitals treat their patients? And how will hospitals work within this new system to maximize their Medicare returns?


Mark Gavens, senior vice president of clinical care services and chief operating officer at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center