Hospital Selfies and Stars: Patients Look Deeper Than HCAHPS

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

There’s a New Consumer in your service area. No longer “merely a patient,” healthcare reform and societal dynamics have empowered a new breed of high-expectation consumers and value-aware shoppers. Before they select a hospital or provider—for themselves or family members—they are increasingly informed about outcomes, reputation, safety scores, patient experience and the cost of care.

And cost and price transparency is a primary motivation near the top of the list because consumers have more skin in the healthcare game than ever before. “Last year, more than half of working Americans reportedly checked prices for the health services they required,” our friend Leah Binder wrote in an insightful Wall Street Journal piece, Why Health-Care Price Transparency Isn’t Enough for Consumers.

“This is a very new phenomenon, catalyzed by the massive shift in the economics of healthcare toward high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), where consumers pay the full cost of the MRI, the X-ray, the specialist visit, etc., until they hit that high deductible.”

When patients “peel the onion” about facilities and service…

Most hospital decision-makers look for, and often publish, information about their facilities that goes well beyond HCAHPS survey scores. Good or not-so-good, administrators and marketing executives want to know how they compare and what informed prospective patients are seeing.

Have you seen yourself as others see you?

Medicare Star Ratings: One of the most recent consumer guidelines distills patient appraisals to a one-to-five star rating system. The Hospital Compare website provides lookup information and scores about the quality of care at over 4,000 Medicare-certified hospitals across the country. In this first grand reveal, Kaiser Health News reports that only 251 hospitals scored the highest, five star rating. “Many of the nation’s leading hospitals received middling ratings, while comparatively obscure local hospitals and others that specialized in lucrative surgeries frequently received the most stars,” they reported.

County Health Rankings & Roadmaps: Perhaps less well known than other sites, the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation publish an interactive site with data searchable by county. Comparisons by topic include outcomes, health behaviors, clinical care, social & economic factors, and physical environment.

Truven Health 2015 Top 15 US Health Systems: Data from 340 health systems and 2,812 member hospitals considered nine metrics: mortality, medical complications, patient safety, average length of stay, 30-day mortality rate, 30-day readmission rate, adherence to clinical standards of care, Medicare spend per beneficiary and Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) patient survey score.

Other top sources for consumer-shopper-patients include Healthgrades, Consumer Reports, US News and World Report rankings, and the Leapfrog Hospital Survey.

For additional reading on this topic, click thorough here to our free educational marketing library:


Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.



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