Some Maryland hospitals also have some lower-than-average scores. At Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, 39 percent of patients said they always received help as soon as they wanted, 25 points below average. At Laurel Regional Hospital, 55 percent of patients said their rooms and bathrooms were always clean, 16 points below average.
“We’re not where we ought to be,” said Dennis Hansen, Shady Grove’s president. To improve satisfaction, nurses now check in with patients every hour.
In New York City, three nationally known teaching hospitals — Beth Israel Medical Center, NYU Langone Medical Center and the Mount Sinai Medical Center — scored below average. Even NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, which did better than average on its overall rating, still scored below average on specific questions.
“Because we have such cultural diversity, such literacy variability and such large and very complex hospitals, for us to always hit it out of the park is very difficult,” said Jaclyn Mucaria, a senior vice president at NewYork-Presbyterian.
Dr. James Merlino, chief experience officer of the Cleveland Clinic, which scores below average on seven of nine key patient-satisfaction questions, said doctors and nurses have done their own studies and concluded that very sick and depressed patients give skewed views. Very ill patients are less likely to report that nurses check in on them every hour — even when logs prove they did, he said.
But low patient ratings often spring from real shortcomings, said Jodie Cunningham, of Press Ganey, a company that administers the surveys for many hospitals. She said poor ratings can be caused by bad employee morale or bed shortages that force patients to remain in emergency rooms for hours before being admitted.
Consumer advocates, who want CMS to give even greater weight to the patient views, said the payment changes, even if imperfect, will spur improvement.
“If we go at the rate many providers would like us to go, we’ll be having the same conversation in 10 years,” said Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women and Families, a Washington nonprofit.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy organization that isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.