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

Despite concerns that hospitals focus on patient satisfaction measures at the expense of care outcomes, positive patient experiences track closely with better outcomes, according to a new study published in the Journal of Patient Experience.

Researchers, led by Stephen Trzeciak, M.D., professor of medicine and head of critical care medicine at Cooper University Health Care and Cooper Medical School of Rowan University, analyzed more than 3,000 hospitals' risk-adjusted records from the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Hospital Compare site. They found a close association between higher patient experience scores and major clinical outcomes such as readmission rates.

The results suggest experts may have been overly dismissive of the potential link between the two, Trzeciak wrote. For example, good communication was a recurring theme in the positive patient feedback researchers analyzed, which previous research has tied to lower readmissions, FierceHealthcare previously reported, but which many hospitals have historically placed on the back burner due to potentially steep training costs.

Trceziak and his team relied on more combined data rather than the single-domain data used in previous studies that found little association between satisfaction ratings and clinical outcomes, according to researchers.

"Multiple potential theories exist by which patient experience could affect clinical outcomes and vice versa," Trceziak said in  study announcement. "One theory is that healthcare providers who are diligent about providing an excellent patient experience may be similarly diligent about excellence in all aspects of patient care. Another theory is that an excellent patient experience may inspire patient confidence and adherence to a treatment plan both in the hospital and following discharge."

To learn more:

- read the announcement