Increasing HCAHPS Scores with Better Communication Tools

by | Apr 20, 2022 | Acute Care, Blog

Share this article!

HCAHPS is a standardized survey that collects data on patients’ perspectives of their hospital care. The survey was created to produce comparable patient satisfaction data between hospitals, incentivize hospitals to improve their quality of care, and enhance accountability and transparency. Hospitals should care about HCAHPS results because they impact both the hospital’s reputation and reimbursement. 

HCAHPS asks patients about different components of their stay, including communication with doctors and nurses, the responsiveness of hospital staff, communication about medication, pain management, discharge, and more. Improving these components are important for hospitals because higher scores mean a better reputation, more reimbursement, and – most importantly – ensures that patients have a better care experience. So, how can you improve your HCAHPS scores? Health tech can help!

Communication Among Clinicians

Healthcare does not use as much modern technology as other industries (hello, fax machines and pagers), and the tools they have are not conducive to collaboration. While the health tech industry is creating tools to match how modern medicine is practiced, improving provider workflows hasn’t always been a primary focus for these platforms. For example, EHRs are good for digitizing records and streamlining the business side of healthcare, but they lack functionality that would improve clinician collaboration. This can result in unsecured workarounds, meaning that the information clinicians use to make clinical decisions can be outdated, potentially impacting patient care. 

Hospitals rely on large interdisciplinary teams to care for patients. For this interdisciplinary teamwork to be successful, team members need to be able to communicate in a timely fashion to provide high quality care. If a physician sees a patient and makes an adjustment to that patient’s care plan but doesn’t have time to update the patient chart, the nurse that comes in to check on the patient an hour later does not see that new information, and an error could occur. Communication failures are a main cause of preventable medical errors and greatly impact patient safety. Errors or increased length of stay can negatively impact patient satisfaction. 

To improve clinician workflows and communication, care team collaboration platforms can meet the needs of interdisciplinary care teams. These platforms allow clinicians to make real-time updates to patient charts and help the entire care team understand the changes made to the care plan so they can adjust their work accordingly. Additionally, platforms that provide a central task list can help each team member see what has already been completed and what still needs to be done for the patient, so that nothing gets missed or unnecessarily repeated. 

Communication Between Clinicians and Patients

Imagine you are a patient at a hospital about to be discharged. The resident physician on your team says you are going to be discharged at noon, a nurse says 3:00 PM, and the attending comes by your room and says it won’t be until tomorrow. You are confused and frustrated. While it is annoying to consistently change the time you are leaving, you’re even more concerned with what this means for your health.Why does your discharge time keep changing? Is something wrong and the attending is worried, or is it that protocol says you need to stay an extra night, and the resident did not know that? Should you be really worried? You ask the nurses who come in next, and you get vague answers. Finally the attending comes back in and says that you are doing well and you just need to be monitored one more night. You’re glad to hear it, but frustrated that you’ve just spent the last few hours so stressed and unable to get answers. If you get a chance to rate your experience, how are you going to rate the communication? 

Better clinician-patient communication is associated with higher patient satisfaction. This makes sense, since many questions on the HCAHPS survey are about communication. Patients want to know what is going on. Mobile technology that allows clinicians to add notes and see updates from colleagues while they are in the room with the patient helps the entire team have the most up-to-date information. This leads to less confusion and allows everyone on the team to give the patient timely and consistent answers. 

So, we know what you’re thinking: do these changes actually improve HCAHPS scores? The answer is yes! CareAlign’s care team collaboration platform helps interdisciplinary teams by providing real-time updates to the care plan, an asynchronous shared task lists, and intuitive data visualization. Users of CareAlign have seen a 9% increase in HCAHPS scores, improving their hospital reputation, increasing their reimbursement, and providing better care for their patients. Reach out to us at to learn more.