Hospitals feeling pain
Patient satisfaction scores rise, but facilities complain about their financial health
Patients’ satisfaction with the care they receive in Virginia hospitals is rising at a time when the financial health of these institutions is said to be declining.
The average percentage of patients giving a Virginia hospital a top ranking on a national survey has risen from 64 percent in 2009 to 70 percent in 2014, the latest year for which information is available. The Virginia average is just one percentage point shy of the national average, which remained at 71 percent in 2014 for the second straight year.
But the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association says the financial environment for its members has become so bad they are willing to tax themselves in order to draw down matching federal funds to expand Medicaid in the commonwealth.
VHHA President Sean T. Connaughton said in an early December letter to Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe that calling for a hospital bed tax, or provider assessment, was a difficult decision. “However the mounting financial burden of diminished reimbursements, increased uncompensated care and federal funding cuts necessitate the exploration of even the previously unthinkable. The status quo is simply unsustainable,” the letter says.
The tax could become an issue in the upcoming General Assembly session. Republicans have blocked persistent efforts by McAuliffe to expand Medicaid, charging that the move would harness the commonwealth to soaring health costs.
A number of Virginia hospitals stood out in the satisfaction survey, officially known as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. The latest survey information, provided by Richmond-based Virginia Health Information, was collected from January through December 2014.
In the survey, patients are asked to give hospitals an overall rating, with the highest rating being a score of 9 or 10. Patients also are asked whether they would recommend the hospital to friends or family. Three hospitals received satisfaction scores of more than 80 percent: Sentara Princess Anne Hospital in Virginia Beach, Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center and Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington.
Virginia Hospital Center, which consistently has scored well in this survey, had the highest percentage of patients giving it a top score, 85 percent. Eighty-six percent of patients responding to the survey also said they would definitely recommend the hospital to others.
The satisfaction rates for all Virginia acute-care hospitals are listed on the following pages.
VHI also provided information about Virginia hospitals with the highest volume of patients discharged under various types of treatments, or service lines.
In the service line section following the satisfaction survey results, charts break down the number of patients discharged at each hospital for a particular treatment. The charts show what that number represents as a percentage of a region’s total patient volume for that service.
More service line charts are available at VHI’s website, www.vhi.org. The website also provides additional information on hospitals, physicians, health insurance, HMOs and nursing facilities.