Have you ever heard of HCAHPS? It's an acronym for Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. A creation of the US Department of Health and Human Services, this is website where you can look up patient satisfaction scores for specific doctors, hospitals, and such. The data provided on this site is generated from surveys sent randomly to patients following hospital admissions, medical visits, etc.
Under the Affordable Care Act, this data is also used to determine reimbursement rates for these same providers. To put it simply, better scores mean better rates of reimbursement for health care providers. So it's natural to assume that providers want to perform well, because that means more income for them!
One of the sections of these surveys pertains to pain management. And since pain was considered the "fifth vital sign" until very recently, pain control is/was very important part of patient satisfaction. Now that we are in the midst of an "opioid crisis" there's been a bit of re-thinking on this idea. In a recent post, Pain :The Fifth Vital Sign...Or Not? you can read a bit more about this. More recently, I have seen a few articles that are a logical succession to this--maybe it's not such a good idea to use pain management satisfaction scores as a basis for reimbursement.
I can see how this has come about. After working in a hospital for many years, I can tell you that they use a lot of pain medications. When someone is a hospital patient medication is still the main method of pain control. Someone is recovering from surgery or just suffered a heart attack, aren't really able use many of the alternative pain management techniques that they could use once they are back on their feet. But I do believe it's possible for hospitals to do a better job of introducing patients to alternative pain control methods while they are still in house.
Here are some examples:
- Making virtual reality technology available to patients
- Learning mindfulness/meditation/breathing
- Having a case worker visit patients and introduce them to alternative and complementary pain management resources that will be available to them after discharge.
What do you think? Feel free to leave me your comments...
Sources: healthleadersmedia.com; beckerspine.com;painmedicinenews.com;hchapsonline.org;wikimedia