3 reasons patient satisfaction is more important than ever

Patient satisfaction is an increasingly important topic in healthcare, and three factors drive that increased prominence, Paul Keckley writes in an article for Hospitals & Health Networks Daily.

For the past nine years, hospitals have used the HCAHPS survey to measure patients' views on communication with nurses and doctors, staff responsiveness, pain management, medicine-related communications, discharge information, cleanliness, noise levels and transition of care, states Keckley, a leading expert on U.S. health reform and managing director at the Navigant Center for Healthcare Research and Policy Analysis. 

"What's striking is that patient satisfaction with hospitals is not strongly associated with accuracy in diagnosing a medical problem or appropriateness in the treatment recommendation that follows. In the vast majority of cases, patients are oblivious to the distinction between a wrong diagnosis and a medical problem whose signs, symptoms, risk factors and comorbidities lend to an uncertain diagnosis," he says. "And most patients are clueless as to medical necessity for the majority of diagnostic tests and a significant portion of surgical cases."

Although patient satisfaction's prominence in healthcare will increase in the future, Keckley writes it will not be due to factors like the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' penalties, but rather due to three key drivers:

  • Increased focus on digital health and social media: Patient satisfaction will hinge heavily on hospitals' ability to satisfy patients with a clear social media strategy, interactive, personalized websites and connectivity between electronic health records and personal health records, he states.

  • Insurance coverage changes: In the post-Affordable Care Act landscape, employers will attempt to pass purchasing accountability on to employees. "Data formally captured and reported by plans and hospitals and informally connected through social media will have a profound impact on how individuals access their providers and select their coverage," he writes.

  • Analytics correlating patient experience with cost and outcomes: Now that it's possible to analyze the effect of patient satisfaction efforts in large databases, consumers will know which treatment options correlate with which outcomes and their experience will become increasingly contingent on diagnostic accuracy and treatment options.

To learn more:
- here's the article