Patient satisfaction is now valued by around two thirds of healthcare organizations. Many organizations consider patient satisfaction to be as important as clinical workflow, the efficiency of the operation, or patient safety. Let’s look at the reasons why patient satisfaction is important to hospitals and likely to remain so for the future.
Reviews Determine Who Gets Business
Whether someone is searching for a restaurant for dinner or the ideal hospital to have a baby at, patient satisfaction translates into reviews online. Negative reviews result in people going to other facilities for care they can plan for in advance. A negative digital reputation can also result in those seeking urgent care choosing a different facility that’s equidistant from their location over yours.
While many hospitals focus on patient satisfaction, relatively few doctors focus on this aspect. This is thought to be because physicians have fewer incentives for patient-centered care improvement, and it is probably driven by doctors seeing their bedside manner and wait time for appointments as the most important metrics after financial ones.
Patient Satisfaction Affects Repeat Business
Like it or not, patients who have a bad experience are unlikely to come back. For retirees and adults with ongoing health conditions, a bad experience means they’ll avoid coming back to your facility. A bad experience in the kidney dialysis unit makes them want to avoid your emergency room and vice versa.
Truly horrific experiences also result in negative word of mouth reporting that affect the perceptions of other patients and their decision to return to your facility. If the patient does have to return, such as due to a recurring infection or other health condition, poor perception increases the odds they will see the problem as your fault due to their bad experience. It also increases the odds they will sue if they suffer complications or disability, because they have already decided it is probably your fault.
Patient Satisfaction Affects Your Reputation
In this article published on the Spok blog, “A constant in a sea of change”, the top hospitals share similar sets of software tools and procedures, but all seek to deliver the highest quality of care while still caring about patients. Patient satisfaction is but one factor in determining the ratings and rankings of a hospital. Readmission rates, death rates and infection rates also affect the rankings of a hospital in various lists. If your patients constantly give your medical practice or facility bad reviews, it may lead to deeper investigation as to why and uncover other issues that affect your rankings in the nationally recognized lists or simply pull you down a few spots. This affects your reputation with healthcare providers and their decision to work for you, the grants and donations others choose to give to hospitals like yours and the coverage your facility receives.
It also explains why more than half of healthcare providers value patient satisfaction as much as they value patient safety and profitability. It is also the justification for the nearly fifty percent of the top one hundred hospitals that monitor patient experience projects. This only builds on the advice one hospital CEO gave to check into the hospital as a patient a few times a year to understand how the patients really see the facility. This is aside from the potentially literal cost if Medicare reimbursements are affected by patient satisfaction scores.
Hospitals are putting more effort into patient satisfaction because of its impact on their reputation with potential paying patients and people they wish to recruit to work there. They also know that more medical care recipients can and do shop based on reputation for optional and planned procedures than they did in the past, while their reputation with patients has the potential of impacting their national reputation in various industry rankings.