Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Do Social Hospitals Have Better HCAHPS Scores??

People wonder about many different things - do these pants make me look fat? - what will I be when I grow up?.. I wonder if social hospitals have better #HCAHPS scores?? My gut tells me that they do - why?? To me the hospital that has adopted social media tools to better communicate with their patients, employees, medical staff, and community reflects an organizational culture of superior communication.

Check out the publicly reported #HCAHPS questions and you will find that they are mainly based upon "communicated well", "received help as soon as they wanted (they were listened to)", and "always explained". These very same characteristics mirror the basic principles of social media - "communicate well, listen, and explain". It is no secret that if your organizational culture is one of superior communication, there should be a correlation to your hospital's #HCAHPS scores.

Like anything else - show me the numbers - for sake of time this morning I choose to look at one of my favorite twittering hospitals - Sarasota Memorial Hospital (Florida) ( @SMHCS) - (or perhaps it is just me imagining myself on one of Sarasota's fine beaches!) - Shawn Halls does a wonderful job in managing their twitter account - @SMHCS is currently #21 on @wefollow in the hospital category with 1,263 twitter followers. They also have earned a 97.9 score according to - they also rank #66,888 out of over 3.2 million overall twitter users!

Sarasota Memorial also has a very nice website that earns a 92 score from ( - with easy to find social media links/buttons to their twitter, facebook, myspace, and delicious accounts. There facebook page ( is very nice - with many postings about classes, clinical services, community activities, etc. All in all, SMH does a very nice job of utilizing social media tools and engaging their employees, patients, medical staff, and community. With this being said, based upon their scores - I would consider them to be one of the "Best Practice" social hospitals.

The other hospital in Sarasota is Doctors Hospital of Sarasota. They too have a very nice visual website - ( - it has their "ER Wait Times", great links and pictures to their events, key service lines, CEO welcome letter, etc. But in contrast to SMH - their website only scores a 64 according to ( Though, their website also does not show any links/buttons to any social media tools/accounts. I did find that they have a facebook page - with only 1 member, I was unable to find a twitter account for them, and they are not listed on Ed Bennett's social media list (

Now let's see how their #HCAHPS scores compare to their competitor - while many of the ten #HCAHPS patient experience ratings are very close - there is a material difference in what I consider the most important question - "Percent of patients who reported YES, they would definitely recommend the hospital" - 77% of Sarasota Memorial Hospital's patients would "definitely recommend" - whereby 71% of Doctors Hospital of Sarasota would "definitely recommend".

While a 6 percentage point difference may not seem like a lot - and certainly 71% is not substandard - Sarasota Memorial had 13,615 discharges in FY2008 (according to their Medicare cost report) - this 6 percentage point difference represents 817 more discharges (patients) that "would definitely recommend" SMH, as compared to Doctors Hospital's 71% rate. In applying this same logic to Doctors Hospital - they had 3,627 discharges in FY2007 (according to their Medicare cost report) - this same 6 percentage point difference represents 218 less discharges (patients) that "would definitely recommend" DHS to their friends and family.

You can draw your own conclusions about the data - this example to me shows that potentially an organization's "superior communication" culture - whether in social media adoption, hospital operations, and patient care - could translate into higher #HCAHPS scores. I will continue this research and looking for other similar markets.


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