Patient Satisfaction: Why It’s So Important and How to Improve It
As the healthcare industry has evolved toward a more patient-centered model, patient satisfaction has become more of a focus for organizations and providers. Not only does patient satisfaction affect patient retention rates, but it is also a key factor in determining the quality of care delivered as well as reimbursement in many healthcare settings.1
In this article, find out more about why patient satisfaction in healthcare is so important, how it’s measured, what influences it, and how to ensure your patients feel satisfied with the care they receive.
Why is patient satisfaction important?
Although patient satisfaction isn’t necessarily tied directly to outcomes, it’s important in a number of ways, including:
Patient adherence and retention
When patients are satisfied with the care they’ve received, they are more likely to adhere to their treatment plans and continue to return to the same organization or provider.
As the healthcare industry has become more patient-centered and service-oriented, patient expectations have shifted as well. Patients now want to take a larger role in managing their care and tend to expect a higher level of convenience, quality, communication, and commitment.2
An indicator of care quality
More and more, high patient satisfaction is seen within the healthcare industry as an indicator of empathetic, patient-centered, and clinically competent care. Studies have demonstrated that patient experience of care plays a role in care quality and that devoting resources toward improving patient satisfaction provides value for both patients and organizations.3
Ratings, reimbursement, and profitability
In some healthcare settings, patient satisfaction scores can also affect ratings and reimbursement. Hospitals and home health agencies are required by CMS to administer standardized, publicly reported patient satisfaction surveys called HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) and HHCAHPS (Home Health Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems). Star ratings based on HCAHPS and HHCAHPS responses are publicly posted by CMS, and results from both surveys factor into patient experience scores under value-based care.
In addition, a 2017 study published in Health Care Management Review found that a positive patient experience was associated with increased profitability for hospitals, while a negative patient experience was even more strongly associated with decreased profitability.4
What determines patient satisfaction?
Common patient expectations for providers and clinics include:
- Good communication, in which providers build trust by demonstrating empathy; speaking in a way that is respectful, caring, friendly, and supportive; inspiring confidence; and giving clear explanations.
- Professional behavior, including punctuality, honesty, appropriate skill, and cleanliness/good hygiene.
- High-quality service, including a warm and welcoming environment; a diagnosis and self-help strategies; individualized, hands-on treatment’ and the ability to easily access care with minimal wait times when help is needed.
How to improve patient satisfaction?
Recovering from an illness or injury—or managing a chronic condition—can be a demanding process, and patients are likely to be juggling additional lifestyle demands and even experiencing discomfort and fear as the result of their injury or condition. That’s why it’s important to make the rehabilitation therapy experience as patient-friendly as possible in order to help patients initially feel at ease, gain confidence throughout the treatment process, and ultimately reach their goals with a high level of self-efficacy.
Here are some best practices to encourage patient satisfaction:
- Train staff on patient-centered care and good communication skills in order to build therapeutic alliance and trust from the beginning. Remember to step into your patients′ shoes, see through their eyes, and hear through their ears.
- Provide patients with high-quality education to help them better understand their condition and treatment plan.
- Incorporate digital healthcare technology that helps better engage patients and improves access to care.
- Streamline the patient experience so that it’s simple, straightforward, and easy to navigate.
- Administer a patient satisfaction questionnaire at your organization so that you can monitor patient satisfaction and address any issues.
How can MedBridge help with patient satisfaction?
Wherever your organization is at in the process of improving patient satisfaction, MedBridge can help. From boosting clinical excellence and establishing better rapport with patients to measuring and improving the patient experience, our solutions can help you engage patients and keep them coming back.
Training on Patient-Centered Care
Help your clinicians learn to deliver excellent patient-centered care, including building a therapeutic alliance, understanding patient expectations, and improving patient engagement to reduce drop-offs and boost outcomes.
Help patients quickly and comprehensively understand their diagnosis and rehabilitation plan with engaging education.
Improve clinical knowledge across your organization with over 2,000 accredited courses across multiple disciplines and specialties.
Patient Mobile App
Transform the patient experience with easy-to-follow, achievable home exercises that patients can access from the convenience of their mobile device, along with in-app messaging and notifications for increasing engagement and adherence.
Telehealth Virtual Visits
Improve access to care and enhance communication between visits with our effective, user-friendly telehealth tool, integrated with MedBridge HEP and patient engagement tools.
- Prakash B. (2010). Patient satisfaction. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery, 3(3), 151–5.
- Manary, M. P., Boulding, W., Staelin, R., & Glickman, S. W. (2013). Perspective: The patient experience and health outcomes. New England Journal of Medicine, 368, 201–203.
- Richter, J. P., & Muhlestein, D. B. (2017). Patient experience and hospital profitability: Is there a link? Health Care Management Review, 42(3), 247–257.