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11:01 PM Tue, Nov. 20th

Survey: Patient satisfaction up at medical center

Patients at Kingman Regional Medical Center report improvement in levels of service in many areas between the second and third quarters of 2007.

PressGaney, an Indiana-based research firm, conducts patient satisfaction surveys for KRMC and many other hospitals. It tabulates responses from questionnaires sent to the homes of patients following their discharge.

Reports are sent to hospitals quarterly with two columns of data - cumulative raw scores and percentile rankings.

"Raw scores are taken from all questions asked and benchmarked against nearly 1,000 other hospitals in the country," said Brian Turney, chief executive officer of KRMC.

Those scores are compared to national averages in each category. For example, under the Admission Rating category, KRMC receives an 84.8 raw score for speed of admission process for this quarter (although the third quarter is not yet complete), whereas it got a mark of 84 for the second quarter (April-June).

The scale for scoring is 0 equals very poor, 25 for poor, 50 for fair, 75 for good and 100 for very good. KRMC thus was rated between good and very good in that sub-category.

Percentile rankings gauge how well a hospital fared in comparison with more than 900 other hospitals. In speed of admission process, KRMC went from 70 percent in the second quarter to 81 percent for the third quarter.

"We were at the 61st (overall) percentile for the last quarter," Turney said.

"There was a year when we were worse and just a little above the median at 52 percent. Our best year had us in the 85th percentile, so it varies by quarter."

The Overall Assessment Rating for KRMC rose from 58 percent in the second quarter of 2007 to 68 percent in the third quarter.

KRMC improved in 32 sub-categories surveyed for the third quarter, declined in five and was unchanged in one from the second quarter.

Tests and Treatment Rating made the biggest gains in patient satisfaction. Four sub-categories all rose by 20 percent or more, giving the entire category a 76 percentile mark for the third quarter compared to 43 percent last quarter. "We have managers there pay attention to processes and if we get complaints and concerns or see patterns we go back to see if there is a problem and adjust it," Turney said. "In the lab, we were getting some backup with people for the length of time for a blood draw and if we have to adjust staffing to lessen it we do so."

"We also implemented rounding this quarter. We have people go upstairs each day, visit patients and catch concerns before they leave the hospital and that has helped."

Physician Rating remains the category with the lowest overall satisfaction rating, going from 16 percent for the second quarter to 23 percent in the third quarter. Four of five sub-categories improved with a 2 percent drop in one - friendliness/courtesy of physician.

"A general complaint we get is the physician does not spend enough time with the patient," Turney said. "Some do quite well and score in the 90th percentile, while others score poorly.

"One of our goals is to educate those not doing well as to things they can do better." Historically, the physician category has not scored well over the past five years, he said. "Our short-term goal is to stay above the 75th percentile," Turney said. "But we want to be in the top 10 percent nationally and stay there."