In 1978 Planetree was established based on the premise that providing healthcare consumers with access to information will empower them to take an active role in decisions affecting their care, treatment and well being. Planetree hospitals and others committed to consumer centric, patient-centered care models began providing patients with information about medical conditions, treatment options and giving patients access to their medical records. Educational materials are provided in satellite health libraries located on patient units and many patients receive Patient Pathways that describe on a daily basis what their test and procedure schedule will be.
What Planetree started was the beginning of a process that would forever change the patient's role and the patient-physician relationship in health care delivery. The role of the more educated empowered and demanding health care consumer was further energized by the Internet, dedicated health channels on cable television, direct to consumer marketing, and cultural change. The changing role has been recognized by healthcare consultants and futurists who have termed this movement "healthcare consumerism" and predict that those hospitals that respond with personalized services and care, clinical quality and service excellence will thrive becoming hospitals of choice for those they serve.
Many hospitals continue to wrestle with meeting the expectations of more educated and demanding health care consumers. Seeking more involvement, openness and personalized care and services consumers are now demanding information that allows them to compare the performance of hospitals on various indicators of quality and customer service. In response, a number of commercial concerns have begun to market hospital performance comparison data to employers and insurers who have in turn made the information available to their employees, members and the public. State and federal government initiatives have made limited comparative performance data available via the internet.
In 2005, the Medicare program piloted a patient experience survey, called HCAHPS, in four states, including Connecticut, which included measurement of overall patient satisfaction at individual hospitals. Based on this pilot study and the Medicare program's desire to increase healthcare information available to consumers, the Medicare program began requiring all hospitals that serve Medicare patients to report data collected through the HCAHPS survey in 2007 to allow the public to compare the results and patient satisfaction ratings for an individual hospital to other hospitals and the national average or median.
The HCAHPS survey is composed of 29 items: 18 substantive items that encompass critical aspects of the hospital experience (communication with doctors, communication with nurses, responsiveness of hospital staff, cleanliness and quietness of the hospital, pain control, communication about medicines, and discharge information); four items to screen patients to appropriate items; three items to adjust for the mix of patients across hospitals; and two items to support congressionally-mandated reports.
Hospitals have begun voluntarily implementing HCAHPS under the auspices of the Hospital Quality Alliance, a private/public partnership that includes the major hospital associations, government, consumer groups, measurement and accrediting bodies, and other stakeholders who share a common interest in improving hospital quality. HCAHPS results are posted on the Hospital Compare Web site, found at www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare, or through a link on www.medicare.gov.
HCAHPS is the first truly national standardized publicly reported benchmark of hospital's patients' perceptions of their care.
The Connecticut legislature passed a law requiring that the Connecticut Department of Public Health develop and issue "A Report on Quality of Care in Connecticut Hospitals." The health department adopted the performance indicators developed and used by the Medicare program. The first report was issued in April 2004 and subsequent reports have been issued quarterly. Included in the report are comparisons about how often hospitals provide the recommended care to patients who have been diagnosed with a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia, which they identify as the three most common and costly medical conditions for which people are hospitalized.
Consistent with Griffin Hospital's Planetree philosophy of empowering patients through access to information, Griffin was one of the first hospitals in the state and only a small percentage of hospitals nationwide to make a number of performance indicators, including the key indicators from the two reports previously mentioned, as well as other quality and performance measurement information available to those we serve.