Fusion Newsletter Article: Marty’s Corner – What Can Food and Nutrition Services Do To Impact Patient Satisfaction Scores?

Marty’s Corner: What Can Food and Nutrition Services Do To Impact Patient Satisfaction Scores?

We’ve all heard the expressions "nice to have" vs. "need to have", and with respect to acceptable hospital patient satisfaction scores, what may have been viewed in the past as a "nice" is definitely now a "need." Authorized by the Affordable Care Act, the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing program is a quality incentive program designed to promote higher-quality care for Medicare beneficiaries. As long as a hospital has recorded the required number of quality measures, conducted the required surveys, and has not been cited for deficiencies nor is subject to payment reductions related to Inpatient Quality Reporting, it is eligible for these incentives which reward better patient outcomes, value, and innovations.

What can food and nutrition services do to impact patient satisfaction scores?The assessment currently involves four domains: Clinical Process of Care (20%), Outcome (30%), Patient Experience of Care (30%), and Efficiency (20%). Under the Patient Experience of Care, there are eight dimensions: nurse communication, doctor communication, hospital staff responsiveness, pain management, medicine communication, hospital cleanliness and quietness, discharge information, and overall hospital rating. Those eight dimensions may be more familiar to you as HCAHPS, or the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Hospital Providers and Systems surveys. The Patient Experience of Care domain score requires at least 100 completed HCAHPS surveys during a designated performance period. There are Achievement Points and Improvement points, with the former comparing a hospital to all hospitals, and the latter comparing a hospital to itself over a period of time.

Although it’s well-known that there is not a unique section for food & nutrition services (FNS) on the HCAHPS Survey, there are several sections where a positive or negative experience with FNS could affect scores. These include questions related to discharge planning – having the information needed to manage one’s health, and taking the patient’s preferences into account. Certainly the overall hospital rating assigned by the patient would be influenced by his or her perception of the food and the courtesy of the FNS staff. Automating FNS can certainly help ensure that patient food preferences, intolerances, and allergies, as well as the patient’s diet order, are properly recorded in order to eliminate the possibility of the patient being served an inappropriate item. Offering menu selection bedside or via a call center, with properly trained FNS staff, can enhance the patient’s experience by offering the patient a choice and providing encouragement from a courteous and caring FNS staff member.

Marty Yadrick, MBI, MS, RDN, FANDArticle by: Marty Yadrick, MBI, MS, RDN, FAND - Director of Nutrition Informatics and former President of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Fusion, 4th Quarter, 2014