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Newer Pardee survey scores rising, CEO says

Pardee Hospital's patient satisfaction ratings were unchanged in the third quarter of 2011, according to survey results published last month by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The figures showed overall satisfaction at Pardee had remained constant at 67 percent, while Park Ridge Health and Mission Hospitals improved slightly to 75 percent and 79 percent respectively. The average for North Carolina hospitals was 70 percent.
Linda Sokalski, a former Pardee board member who has been critical of the hospital for its satisfaction scores, said in an email to various county officials that the CMS scores are critical because the government will use them, "along with specific clinical outcomes, readmission and infection rates," to adjust Medicare reimbursement rates.
"I was pleased to see that a specific objective was not set for patient satisfaction," she said. "Instead, it will be a competitive measure. That is good news for consumers, since it will encourage continual improvement."
"Unfortunately for Pardee, many other hospitals have a head start on this," she added. "In the four years CMS has compiled and published their data, overall patient satisfaction at Pardee has been basically flat — 68 percent in 2008 and 67 percent in the current reporting quarter."
Pardee officials say that survey numbers from a year ago don't reflect the intense focus the management and the Performance Improvement Committee have put on improving the scores or on progress indicated in more recent data that CMS won't release for a year.
In fact, Pardee has already shown a 9 percent gain in patient satisfaction ratings in more recent survey numbers, said hospital CEO Jay Kirby, who came on board last August.
"The board at the time was very clear with me that this needed to be a priority, so much so that it's a significant part of my performance evaluation," he said. "So it has been a priority of mine and the administrative team long before Dr. Sokalski started sending this in."

"I look at scores in real time, and our score for overall rating of the hospital has gone up 9 percent, from 67 to 73. We've had intensive team member training, we've had leadership training, we've had customer satisfaction training and we've been undertaking a cultural transformation," he said. "I think what you're seeing in the last 60 days is we're getting there."
Sokalski said the flat rate for Pardee last summer left it behind peers including Mission and Park Ridge.
"By contrast, in 2008 overall patient satisfaction at Park Ridge was 57 percent. The 75 percent rate in the current reporting quarter would indicate significant effort aimed at this issue," she said.
Pardee, like about half of all hospitals nationally, uses the health care consulting firm Press Ganey to measure patient satisfaction. The hospital gets the data months before it's made public.
Kirby said it's true that no hospital can compare itself with its peers until the government releases the CMS numbers. But those run a year and a half behind the data collection, a lag that has been a source of frustration for Pardee leaders and the Performance Improvement Committee.
"We will continue to prioritize those efforts until we exceed the 75th percentile," Kirby said. "We want to be a top quartile hospital in patient satisfaction."