Modern Day Candy Stripers - Comfort Runners® Improve HCAHPS Scores

Presented by Diana Harris, RN, BSN, CNA-BC

What were you trying to accomplish?
To improve scores in the ‘responsiveness of staff’ domain of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) in the Family-Centered Care Unit.

What factors prompted you to start this project?
HCAHPS is a national standardized survey tool used to measure adult inpatient perception of the quality of care they receive. Since 2007, hospitals have been required to submit HCAHPS results in order to receive full Medicare payment. In 2012, HCAHPS will transition from pay-for-reporting to pay-for-performance. This movement to tie reimbursement to performance prompted steps to improve the patient experience.

What interventions did you employ?
Historically, the goal of a volunteer candy striper was to make a patient's stay in the hospital more pleasant by visiting and delivering items to them. A Comfort Runner® functions as a modern day candy striper by rounding hourly on patients to provide nourishment, distraction and information.

How did you know if the changes resulted in an improvement?
Prior to implementation, scores in this domain were consistently below the 50th percentile of ‘always’ at 61.2% (2008) and 62.1% (2009). After implementation of the Comfort Runner® program in 2010, scores immediately elevated and have sustained above the 50th and 90th percentile (74% - 84%). In addition, corresponding improvements were noted in the communication and pain management domains as nurses had more time to focus on these responsibilities.

How did this project impact your department/organization?
The Comfort Runner® program is popular with both staff and patients. Other units have replicated the program due to its success. Comfort Runners® are integral to quality and clinical outcomes, thanks to their interactions with both nurses and patients.


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