While working out, I was trying to listen to Megan Kelly’s court segment on her FoxNews show on 16 Nov 2012 (http://188.8.131.52:15871/cgi-bin/blockpage.cgi?ws-session=2041758427). However, because I was working out I did not get the whole story, but the gist of it was, George Washington University had lost its academic rating due to the university was fudging the facts.
I did hear one of the guests on the show comment about the insignificance of such ratings, an argument I have made most my life, that includes brands. As if supporting my view, the guest used as an example a dry cleaner in his neighborhood that claimed to be “The World’s Best Dry Cleaners.” The claims are unjustified as anyone can make such claims and many do. However, unlike the cleaners, George Washington University was not making those claims; instead they were inflating their scores by falsifying facts and letting make those claims for them.
Having said that, the same guest also pointed out those rating are no more than marketing gimmicks and commonly are not worth much other than to attract customers. The guest, a lawyer, hence Kelly’s Court, added that proving malice or negligence would be difficult in a court of law for falsely reporting facts, implying the benefits, profits in particular, from such antics outweighs being shamed in the public’s eye, or at least that is what I got.
What do cleaners or George Washington University have to do with healthcare? Nothing really, except, when patients are considered customers then they have a lot in common because of customer service ratings. As the Disney Institute website points out, “Regardless of industry, if you have customers, you’re in the customer-service business.” (http://disneyinstitute.com/topics/quality_service.aspx) On that premise then, if cleaners and more important, if George Washington University are willing to risk public shame over doing the right thing, what keeps healthcare administrators from fudging HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) numbers? Especially administrators whose priority it is to outperform those “up the street” versus providing quality healthcare; after all, “It’s all about money.”
Critics likely will recoil and even suggest I have crossed the line, however, it is well documented in the literature that Medicare and Medicaid fraud cost taxpayers billions (http://www.forbes.com/sites/merrillmatthews/2012/05/31/medicare-and-medicaid-fraud-is-costing-taxpayers-billions/). So there is no way to say how far administrators would go when their HCAHPS numbers are keeping them from the money they were accustom to, and all because they chose profit over healthcare and healthcare workers.
My solution would be to not consider patients customers or clients, as healthcare is the only industry truly dedicated to helping others and the only industry with patients and not customers.