Surgical, ambulatory, and inpatient service departments within a hospital implemented an innovative tool that allows medical staff to send realtime updates to their patients’ family members. The software-based solution, Familyfirst, relies on one-way messaging from the care team to update families about the status of their loved ones. In previous medical settings where the tool has been used, both medical staff and family members have noted the ease of use and improved communication. Families specifically praised the peace of mind that the communication channel granted them, and reported significantly less stress and anxiety during the waiting process.
Familyfirst has shown potential in boosting Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or “HCAHPS" scores, particularly in those categories relating to communication. While the HCAHPS survey is directed towards the patient, it is widely understood amongst Patient Experience teams and hospital eadership that the percieved experiences of the family, has a great influence on the patient’s recollection of their own experience. This study looks into comparing HCAHPS scores in various hospital departments before and after the implementation of the Familyfirst solution.
The hospital subject identified HCAHPS scores as an area for improvement. Specifcally, Nurse and Doctor Communication scores as they have been hovering about 25% below local competing hospitals for much of the last calendar year at the time of the study.
HCAHPS scores in Cardiac surgery and Cardiac ICU were recorded prior to the application being introduced to the hospital, and again after implementation and unit-wide adoption of the technology. Additionally, scores from departments with a Familyfirst integration were compared to those without. For example, ambulatory surgery and various inpatient services were included in the roll-out, but the emergency department and inpatient behavioral health services were not. Familyfirst was the only intervention related to provider communication, therefore any change in scores was inferred to be as a result of Familyfirst.
After implementing Familyfirst, overall HCAHPS scores increased in every communication category in inpatient cardiac surgery and ICU. Most notably, scores increased from 33.3 to 83.3 for Communication with Nurses in cardiac surgery.
Moving to overall services, specifically ambulatory surgery, scores rose by 7.9 points. This is compared to ED and inpatient behavioral health where Familyfirst was not implemented, decreasing 1.4 and 15.2 points respectively.
The hypothesis that Familyfirst’s seamless channel of communication from the provider to the patient-family would increase satisfaction scores was verified with concrete HCAHPS data in this study. Most notably, Cardiac Surgery and ICU saw sizable increases in communication-related scores. Further, the impact transcended the specific units, as overall HCAHPS scores saw a boost from the intervention. Now, paired with the strong enthusiasm and anecdotal support for Familyfirst by the medical staff and patient population, there is empirical evidence that Familyfirst can move the needle in satisfaction scores. As a result of these findings, Familyfirst and the subject hospital made plans to enter other clinical contexts, such as ED, Labor & Delivery, and more.