Last week, CMS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, announced the names of hospitals who received bonuses for quality. It also listed the names of hospitals which received penalties. Kaiser Health News has done a great job of covering the story.

Here’s what I find to be the single, most telling thing:

Nicholas Genna, CEO of Treasure Valley Hospital in Idaho, recipient of the biggest bonus, credited close attention to patients, including a low nurse-to-patient ratio and handwritten thank-you notes to patients, along with the fact that the doctors own the hospital. “People answer the phone with a smile on their face,” he said.

If that doesn’t validate…nay…quantify the importance of making patient experience the top priority, I don’t know what does.

Compare Mr. Genna’s comments to those from the most penalized hospital:

Thomas Filiak, the chief operating officer at Auburn Community Hospital in New York, which received the largest penalty, said executives have begun a number of initiatives to lower noise near patient hallways, including putting new wheels on squeaky food carts. “They sounded like Mack trucks going through the hallway,” he said.

One speaks to actions and the other to lip service. Sure, squeaky carts are annoying and may lead to a less than favorable result on one particular HCAHPS question. But ask yourself this, for which of these places would you rather work? At which would you rather seek care?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m applauding Mr. Filiak’s efforts and I’m sure the leadership team at Auburn Community is well poised for a fantastic turnaround — I’m looking forward to reading that story in 2013.

What I’m suggesting is that Treasure Valley’s success is clearly the result of a patient-centered culture, and it shows in how patients feel about them and in turn how Medicare is rewarding those kinds of culture.

via Medicare Discloses Hospitals' Bonuses, Penalties Based On Quality - Kaiser Health News.