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How to Fill Out Hospital Patient Experience or Patient Satisfaction Surveys

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Updated December 18, 2013

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How to Fill Out Hospital Patient Experience or Patient Satisfaction Surveys

As a part of the Affordable Care Act (healthcare reform) in the United States, beginning in 2012, the amount a hospital is reimbursed for a Medicare patients' stay will be partially dependent on how well the hospital did its job - or more to the point - how well the patient thinks the hospital did its job.

In the past, the hospital billed Medicare, and Medicare paid the bill. But now hospitals will be measured, then paid on their ability to supply higher quality care; those hospitals demonstrating higher quality care will be paid more. Medicare is the payer initiating this system. It is expected that private insurance payers will soon follow suit.

How do these measurements take place? American hospitals must issue patient satisfaction surveys (hospitals call it "patient experience.") If you are hospitalized, then you may be asked to fill out one of these surveys. They are sent to a random sample of all patients, not just Medicare patients, within a few weeks of discharge.

Your results will be aggregated with the answers provided by other patients who have experienced their care in the same hospital. In addition to determining how much the hospital is reimbursed for your care, those aggregated results will be reported at the HospitalCompare website. This will allow future patients and caregivers to choose their hospitals based on real outcomes, not just the advertising one sees, or the location of the hospital. This is called transparency, and provides a choice for the future - not so different from the way you might choose which car you want to drive based on the quality of the manufacturing, and the quality of the service department of the dealer.

If you receive one of these surveys, there are some guidelines you will want to follow to be sure your response is truly reflective of your experience, and that your privacy is maintained. Remember, if these surveys don't reflect the true experience, then some hospitals will be paid too much, and some will be paid too little.

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