I was reading an article recently about why people attend conferences. Do you know what the No. 1 reason is? It's to solve business problems. According to the article, "Attendees arrive at conferences with specific industry problems they expect to solve. People are searching for answers and they expect the conference to deliver solutions to them."

As I was thinking about the industry-specific problems you might be facing, my thoughts drifted to patient satisfaction and Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores. HCAHPS scores are certainly a hot topic. Questions swirl about how to improve them.

For example, how can you leverage high-return units to improve your patient-satisfaction scores? Can scores ever actually get to the ever-elusive 90th percentile? What exactly would be in your patient-satisfaction toolbox to help you get there?

Dovetailing with the issue of HCAHPS scores is the problem of health care-associated infections (HAIs). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, beginning later this year, many health care facilities will be required to report HAI rates to the National Healthcare Safety Network. Those of you who participated in AHE's recent regulatory compliance webinar heard that Centers for Medicare &

Medicaid Services regulations call for reduced reimbursement to health care facilities when patients are readmitted with HAIs.

Admittedly, these are tough problems and daunting challenges. How do you begin to solve them? Well, at the risk of sounding like a promoter, may I suggest AHE's 2011 Annual Conference as part of the solution?

Our conference offers an outstanding series of educational programs. You'll find sessions and tools to help you solve HCAHPS and patient-satisfaction problems, such as the following:

  • HCAHPS Winners' Toolbox — Proven Strategies to Increase Your Scores;
  • Implications of HAI Costs on Environmental Services;
  • HAI and HCAHPS;
  • Search and Destroy — Eliminating Pathogens in the Patient Care Environment;
  • Infection Prevention During Construction and Renovation;
  • Utilizing Infection Control to Enhance Quality Assurance and Staff Development.

AHE is your professional association. Everything we do is designed to support, educate and equip you. We've done our part to provide the best conference ever to help you find effective solutions to problems. Now is the time to do your part.

This month's column was written by Sandra Rials, who is AHE's education manager.

AHE insight

Valuable resources

AHE offers a variety of educational materials. They include the following:

  • Practice Guidance for Healthcare Environmental Cleaning. This publication, prepared by AHE and edited by infection control professionals, contains requirements for environmental cleaning in health care facilities. Targeted for environmental services directors and managers, this book can be used as a resource for implementing proper cleaning techniques and procedures.
  • Contracting: Myths & Realities. This publication covers everything from outsourcing to management pitfalls. It includes sample surveys, budgets and task lists that will assist in making the best contracting decisions for a health care facility's environmental services department. AHE re-released this manual to keep environmental services professionals at the top of their game.
  • Glossary of Healthcare Terms for Environmental Services. This convenient reference tool features hundreds of terms and definitions organized alphabetically, both general and specific to environmental services, housekeeping and textile care.

For information on purchasing these and other valuable industry references, select "AHA Store," then "Environmental Services" click here.