Customer satisfaction essential for hospitals' success

Press Ganey scores on things like foodservice determine amount of Medicare funds a hospital receives.

March 20—The picky patient who complains about hospital food or a wait in the emergency room could mean the difference between a hospital getting a full Medicare reimbursement and a reduced payment beginning this fall.

The stakes are higher than ever for hospitals to improve the patient experience. Starting in October, it could mean millions of dollars for hospitals as patient satisfaction for the first time is factored into how much Medicare reimburses for the care of senior citizens.

"One bad meal can mean a bad patient satisfaction score," said Fred Brown, managing director for consulting firm Ducker Worldwide in Troy.

And Metro Detroit hospitals are jumping into action, retraining employees in customer service and offering perks such as made-to-order room service meals and VIP lounges to cater to patients and their families.

"The luxury of the rooms is becoming an important factor, and the kind of food you're getting is becoming an important factor," Brown said.