Does Patient Satisfaction Matter?

Hospitals with high patient satisfaction scores enjoy a range of benefits, including higher patient retention rates, better clinical outcomes, and lower risk of litigation. The best part is, maximizing patient satisfaction in hospitals isn’t hard – in fact, it can be as easy as integrating doctors’ answering service, leveraging technology or fostering communication.

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Today, delivering stellar medical solutions involves so much more than treating a patient – it requires communication, care, concern, reliability, affordable pricing, and so on. That’s why hospitals and health systems are embracing strategies and processes that will help them ensure maximum patient satisfaction in their facilities. They are encouraging best practices like using the patient’s name, making eye contact with the patient as much as possible, spending time on patient education, and so on. Facilities are also striving to ensure cleanliness, improve hospital atmosphere, personalize patient experience, and determine if the enhanced patient satisfaction needs upgraded systems. 

But the question is, why are they doing all these? Does patient satisfaction matter after all? 

In business, providing excellent customer service is critical for success. Many companies today attribute their reputation and success to exceptional customer experience. However, health systems and hospitals have, for a long time, not been linked to such a dependency. But times are changing now. The CMS, under the Affordable Care Act, has decided to link Medicare settlement to patient satisfaction scores. So today, patient satisfaction has become one of the biggest priorities for health systems across the nation. A 2004 poll by Harris revealed that patients preferred the doctor’s interpersonal skills more than they did their technical skills. 

Although there aren’t any oneness as to what patient satisfaction means to health care systems, 34% describe it as being patient-focused practice while 29% as a group of meaningful activities tailored for every patient; others say it’s all about keeping the patients happy. Although all of them are right in their own perspectives, patient satisfaction is more than that. It is about the philosophy of a hospital with regard to care delivery.

Simply put, patient satisfaction indicates how well a patient is treated. The “how well” part doesn’t only tie to the quality of care, but also how happy the patient is with the care they received. For instance, when a patient calls in to book for an appointment, report an emergency or consult about a particular situation, we can say that they are satisfied if they don’t have to wait on the line for too long before they get a response. We can also say they are satisfied if the recipient is professional and can render the kind of help the patient was hoping to get. Again, this should be at any time of the day or night (inclusive of holidays). It’s a no wonder top hospitals outsource physician answering service to ensure they never miss a call. 

Importance of patient satisfaction 

Patient satisfaction is not all about patients and them being happy; it can also benefit the health systems in a range of ways, including: 

Building loyalty

A satisfied patient is a happy patient, and that’s very valuable for any health system. One is that the patient will always come back if they are not feeling well. Two is that they will refer their friends and family to the facility, which translates to more business. With the ever-growing market competition, the value of a happy client can never be overstated. 

Attracting new patients

This point goes hand in hand with the one mentioned above. It’s easy for someone to trust their sibling, cousin, friend or colleague than an advertisement on a billboard. A satisfied patient will gladly refer a facility to people within their circles and influence them to visit the facility more than a TV or radio commercial. 

Reducing the risk of litigations

Some medical reports reveal that satisfied patients are less likely to file a claim against the doctor or the healthcare facility if they experience an outcome that falls short of their expectations.

Enhancing clinical outcomes

There is a link between a happy client and treatment effectiveness, according to some studies. Medical practitioners who can establish trust will improve the chances of the patient sticking to their treatment recommendations.