The clinical ROI of patient experience efforts

Female doctor talking to male patient in hospital bed
Hospitals that had high patient experience scores were also more likely to perform well on clinical quality measures. Getty/monkeybusinessimages

Hospitals with high patient experience scores also performed better on a number of clinical quality measures, further evidence that such efforts provide a clinical return on investment. 

Researchers at Deloitte compared patient experience scores from Hospital Compare to quality measures that looked at both the point of care and outcomes, including emergency department wait times, readmission and mortality rates and hospital acquired infection rates.

They found that hospitals with “excellent” ratings (a 9 or 10 out of 10) for patient experience performed better on many of the 18 included clinical quality measures when compared to those with “low” (a zero to 6 out of 10) scores for experience.

RELATED: Link between patient satisfaction and better outcomes is stronger than experts thought

“Hospital executives face multiple priorities and resource demands, and may question the business value of analyzing and acting upon patient experience data,” according to the report. “These new findings help strengthen the business case for patient experience.”

The relationship between patient experience scores and point-of-care quality measures was clear, according to the report. For instance, hospitals with an “excellent” rating had shorter emergency department wait times by about 20 minutes when compared to those with “low” experience scores. Clinical measures that may be more “visible” to patients hewed more closely to patient experience scores.

However, the analysis did find that the relationship between patient experience and outcome-based measures is more complicated, as many of the factors that impact readmissions or infection rates may be out of a provider’s control.

Despite this, hospitals with the highest ratings also tended to have lower readmission rates, according to the report.

RELATED: Hospital Impact: For a better patient experience, focus on the outcomes that matter most

Healthcare is a “unique service business” when compared with the hospitality industry, James Merlino, M.D., chief medical officer for strategic consulting at Press Ganey, said in an interview with Forbes, but one potential area for growth and investment that providers can take away from hotels or restaurants is new and better ways to communicate with patients.

“High-performing hospitality organizations understand how to motivate their people and keep them focused on the big picture of personal-relationship-oriented interactions through the use of good processes and cultural alignment,” Merlino said.

“Those are lessons that we should study, learn from, and translate to the healthcare environment.”

Innovation is one strategy, Merlino added, but providers don’t have to reinvent the wheel to improve the patient experience. Looking at existing systems and ways that execution can be improved may be a more valuable approach, he said.