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June 01, 2017

Child HCAHPS: Because Children Aren't Little Adults

HCAHPS isn’t a term that is new to the healthcare industry.  Hospitals have been collecting and reporting HCAHPS data for almost a decade now.  They have been able to analyze the data, implement quality improvement initiatives, and see the results with increased HCAHPS scores and Medicare reimbursements. 

During that time the focus was on metrics that evaluated the adult patient experience.  A few years ago, the need was seen to establish a similar set of standardized metrics for pediatric patients.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published the Child HCAHPS survey, an expanded version of HCAHPS that included topics that were relevant to pediatric care. 

Nurse, Child, and Mother - Compressed.png

While HCAHPS focused on items that were key to a positive patient hospital experience, it wasn’t a one size fits all solution to understanding overall patient care for all patients.  How is Child HCAHPS different? 

  • First of all with children, patient care goes beyond the patient. One area often overlooked in pediatric healthcare is the unique experience that comes with treating pediatric patients.  With pediatric rounding, you are taking into account the entire family not just an individual.
  • Secondly, there is a greater emphasis on communication. Ten of the 18 metrics within Child HCAHPS focuses on communication.  Not only are you interacting with the patient, but you are also interacting with the patient’s parents. 
  • Lastly, there is an increased focus on the holistic view of the patient. The patient hospital experience encompasses all activities from admission to discharge.  While the activities may be similar to that of an adult patient, for pediatric patients the wants and needs are different, their understanding is different, and communication is different, which is the focus of Child HCAHPS.

To start your organization on the road to improving your quality of pediatric inpatient care, here are five things you need to make an impact.

  1. Implement a Process for Consistency - Nurse rounding is a key touchpoint within the healthcare process and with improvement, can have a direct correlation with increased Child HCAHPS scores. Rounding creates the opportunity to engage the patient, identify care issues, and initiate early intervention when there are issues.  This could be as simple as creating a standardized set of rounding questions tailored to children and their needs.
  2. Identify Ways to Get to Know Your Patient – Understanding a patient’s likes, dislikes, and history creates a positive interactive patient experience. The more you can be “familiar” with our little ones the more comfortable they and their families feel. For example, remembering the name of their doll or video game can help ease anxiety in a stressful time.
  3. Create Meaningful Reporting – Your data is only as helpful as the story it tells. Reporting data in real time enables you to analyze and react to patient care issues as they occur.  As you identify your family-centric process and begin to report the data, it will tell the story from both the parent and child view.   
  4. Be Mobile – Utilizing mobile technology gives you the flexibility to be in front of the patient and gather information during the interaction. Having the power of information at their fingertips, nurses can personalize conversations with children or their families based on rounding responses.
  5. Utilize Technology that is Adaptable and Flexible - Today’s healthcare requirements necessitate a technology solution that captures patient and event based data in a format that is immediately accessible. Utilizing technology that is adaptable and flexible makes it easier for organizations to focus on tailoring to the needs of the child.

With information readily available, hospital staff have the knowledge to make better and more informed decisions in regards to patient care.  Now go out there, put your best foot forward, and provide your patients with an inpatient experience they will want to tell you and others about. 

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Lauren Walling

Lauren Walling is a graduate of Emory University with a degree in Industrial Psychology, as well as an MBA from the John Sykes School of Business from The University of Tampa. She currently sits on the Board of Fellows at the University of Tampa, and is a member of the Healthcare Business Women's Association, National Association of Professional Women, and the Morton Plant Skip Cline Society. Lauren works with large Healthcare Systems implementing Patient Experience Solutions that streamline processes, increase patient experience and improve quality and safety. 

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