Medicare To Begin Basing Hospital Payments On Patient-Satisfaction Scores

From Kaiser Health News:

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is finalizing details for the new reimbursement method, required by last year’s health care law. Consumer advocates say tying patient opinions to payments will result in better care. But many hospital officials are wary, arguing the scores don’t necessarily reflect the quality of the care and are influenced by factors beyond their control.

Medicare has been publishing patient-satisfaction scores on its Hospital Compare website since 2008, but hasn’t used them to adjust payments. Under CMS’s “value-based purchasing proposal, Medicare will begin withholding 1 percent of its payments to hospitals starting in October 2012. That money — $850 million in the first year — will go into a pool to be doled out as bonuses to hospitals that score above average on several measures. The agency’s final rule is due out soon.

Illinois ERs Compete for Patients

From JEMS:

Springfield-area residents are being wooed to choose one emergency room over another.

St. John’s Hospital, which has lost ground to Memorial Medical Center over the past half-dozen years when it comes to the number of patients seeking care in the ER, launched its “ER Care Times” campaign a few months ago, complete with billboards, signs on buses and a prominent spot on the St. John’s website.

The St. John’s campaign is the first ER promotional effort by the hospital in several years.

Memorial, which is almost constantly advertising its ER, recently kicked off its newest marketing effort – “Memorial ER Stories” – in which it solicits testimonials from former patients for promotional use in exchange for a free T-shirt.