• Public reporting;
  • patients satisfaction survey;
  • hospital quality improvement

Objective. To explore the impact of statewide public reporting of hospital patient satisfaction on hospital quality improvement (QI), using Rhode Island (RI) as a case example.

Data Source. Primary data collected through semi-structured interviews between September 2002 and January 2003.

Study Design. The design is a retrospective study of hospital executives at all 11 general and two specialty hospitals in RI. Respondents were asked about hospital QI activities at several points throughout the public reporting process, as well as about hospital structure and processes to accomplish QI. Qualitative analysis of the interview data proceeded through an iterative process to identify themes and categories in the data.

Principal Findings. Data from the standardized statewide patient satisfaction survey process were used by hospitals to identify and target new QI initiatives, evaluate performance, and monitor progress. While all hospitals fully participated in the public reporting process, they varied in the stage of development of their QI activities and adoption of the statewide standardized survey for ongoing monitoring of their QI programs. Most hospitals placed responsibility for QI within each department, with results reported to top management, who were perceived as giving strong support for QI. The external environment facilitated QI efforts.

Conclusion. Public reporting of comparative data on patient views can enhance and reinforce QI efforts in hospitals. The participation of key stakeholders facilitated successful implementation of statewide public reporting. This experience in RI offers lessons for other states or regions as they move to public reporting of hospital quality data.