In the latest Medicare Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems patient survey, the Department of Veterans Affairs outperformed community hospitals in 10 of 11 different categories.
The report said that 54% of VA hospitals earned four or five stars, while only 35% of community hospitals did. That’s a hefty increase; just a few years ago, only 26% of VA hospitals rated four or five stars.
The categories included cleanliness of the hospital, care transition, communication with nurses, discharge info and more. Questions were wide ranging, from “Did doctors treat you with courtesy and respect?” all the way to “If you were given new medication, were you told what it was for?” and “Was your personal information treated in a confidential way?”
The VA questionnaire, called the Survey of Healthcare Experience of Patients, is based on Medicare’s Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys. Results for all hospitals can be found at Medicare.gov and are updated quarterly. The latest release of the data, however, includes results from July 2020 through March 2021.
One worrying detail: Staff selects veterans to fill out the surveys based on the kind of care they got and the last time they filled out a survey. These can be either veterans who were admitted and had surgery or a treatment and then were sent home, or veterans who had care during a medical visit. Shortly afterward, they’re sent the survey packet (questionnaire, cover letter, return envelope).
The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS.gov) website says that the survey is for a “random sample” of patients. How, one wonders, is it truly random if staff is selecting the patients to ask? Additionally, since all hospitals have a different mix of patients, it appears that those who finalize the reports average out the results in areas such as age, education, health status and so forth in what they call patient-mix adjustments.
What would the results be if they weren’t making adjustments?
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Photo by Stephen Andrews