Patient Hospital Experience Improved Modestly But No Evidence Medicare Incentives Promoted Meaningful Gains
Author: Irene Papanicolas, José F. Figueroa, E. John Orav, Ashish K. Jha
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has played a leading role in efforts to improve patients’ experiences with hospital care. Yet little is known about how much patient experience has changed over the past decade, and even less is known about the impact of CMS’s most recent strategy: tying payments to performance under the Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) program. We examined trends in multiple measures of patient satisfaction in the period 2008–14. We found that patient experience has improved modestly at US hospitals—both those participating in the VBP program and others—with the majority of improvement concentrated in the period before the program was implemented. While certain subsets of hospitals improved more than others, we found no evidence that the program has had a beneficial effect. As policy makers continue to promote value-based payment as a way to improve patient experience, it will be critical to ensure that payment is structured in ways that actually drive improvement.