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2018 Medicare Changes to Pain Management Questions

For years, hospitals and physicians have struggled with questions on the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Provider and Systems (HCHAPS) which targets patient satisfaction by asking patients to complete survey questions about their experience in the hospital. Hospital reimbursement is tied to how well the hospital scores on the patient satisfaction – some of the survey questions ask patients to “rate their pain” during their hospital stay.

During the 2017 KMA Annual Meeting – Leadership in Action session, trauma surgeon, Phillip Chang, M.D., chief medical officer at University of Kentucky HealthCare discussed the importance of patient/physician communication concerning pain. Dr. Chang said to “set goals and expectations” for the patient. Those goals should include an open and realistic discussion with patients that explain their pain level may never be at zero.

Medicare agrees. Beginning with patients discharged in January, 2018 three new pain management questions will be used and will no longer require patients to “rate their pain.” Instead the survey questions involve communication about pain and how to effectively treat pain.

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