This article was written by Lisa Miller.
Patient satisfaction has become increasingly important since the introduction of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Practitioners and Systems (HCAHPS) survey.
How can a hospital provide the best quality of care, increase and maintain high HCAHPS scores and become the provider of choice? In this article, I suggest 3 ways to improve patient satisfaction in your hospital to achieve this goal.
Why does patient satisfaction matter?
Patient satisfaction is a goal of all healthcare organizations for several reasons which include:
Hospitals that provide a superior patient experience – and greater patient satisfaction – generate a 50% higher financial performance than average providers. Click To Tweet
- Research suggests that hospitals that provide a superior patient experience, leading to greater patient satisfaction, generate a 50% higher financial performance than average providers.
- Continuous and positive long-term relationships with healthcare providers encourage patient loyalty, effective healthcare and good lifestyle habits.
- Patient-centered care is better for your patients. Demonstrating compassion for patients is also associated with lower medical costs, better clinical outcomes and higher patient satisfaction.
From a business perspective, patient satisfaction is one of the key drivers of hospital reimbursement.
HCAHPS surveys are national, standardized, publicly reported surveys of patients’ perspectives of hospital care (distributed to patients after they are discharged). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) utilizes the results of these surveys with the following goals:
- First, the survey is designed to produce data about patients’ perspectives of care that allow objective and meaningful comparisons of hospitals on topics that are important to consumers.
- Second, public reporting of the survey results creates new incentives for hospitals to improve quality of care and patient satisfaction.
- Third, public reporting serves to enhance accountability in healthcare by increasing transparency of the quality of hospital care provided in return for the public investment.
The importance of trust in patient satisfaction
Trust is the key in the development of patient satisfaction and loyalty. When a hospital creates a patient-centered culture, and has a strategic plan to maintain a Patient-Provider-Partnership, a trusting relationship is formed. A loyal patient becomes a partner throughout their continuum of life.
But healthcare systems face the following challenges:
- What do their patients want?
- What is most important to the patient and their family?
- How can we find the answers before the patient arrives in our facility and improve patient satisfaction?
I recommend three key strategies to address those questions:
#1 Carry out a patient experience assessment & roadmap
In my experience as CEO and Founder of VIE Healthcare®, high levels of patient satisfaction must utilize a holistic approach. Without understanding the ‘patient view,’ it is impossible to improve the patient experience. The VIE Healthcare team takes a deep dive into the patient view to uncover the hidden pain points and frustrations of your patients and their families. Our analysis covers the following:
- Employee culture
- Hospital reputation within the community
- HCAHPCS scores
- Star Ratings/Hospital Reviews
- “The Patient Story” – using a variety of tools (for example, face-to face patient/family interviews, focus groups, employee/patient town hall meetings).
Notably, a 2016 survey found that over half (59%) of patients reported that engaging in face-to-face time with healthcare providers increased overall satisfaction.
#2 Patient Journey Mapping™
VIE’s Patient Journey Mapping™ service is an illustrated patient pathway or process, connecting the steps between two or more points, following your patients to gather vital insights and information.
Applying advanced ethnographic techniques enables your hospital to carry out a more in-depth analysis than traditional research methods. Identifying unarticulated also helps you to discover what your patients really need, to ensure higher levels of patient satisfaction and become pioneers in the provision of exceptional patient care.
Shadowing your patients offers numerous benefits, for example:
- It reveals the root causes of issues with patient satisfaction and helps to create a framework to resolve them.
- Errors and duplications are reduced. Delays are minimized, ensuring a more seamless patient journey.
- Your purchased services are utilized to their full potential, reducing cost and providing an enhanced model of patient care.
- Patient satisfaction is increased as complaints fall.
- Front line insights are discovered, with innovative ideas to optimize care deliver and operational performance.
- Your patients feel more valued, increasing trust and co-operation as they feel their concerns are being heard.
#3 Ensure a continuum of care for enhanced patient satisfaction
The third strategy I recommend to improve patient satisfaction in your hospital is to ensure a continuum of care. As the population ages, this strategy can play a critical role in your overall profitability and help your hospital to become a provider of choice for your patients.
At VIE Healthcare, we optimize continuous care across the entire spectrum of patient treatment with a focus on innovation, communication and transparency. This includes careful management of expectations of care among your patients, leading to higher levels of satisfaction.
As we enter an era of value based care, patient-centered healthcare reform means it is critical for all healthcare organization to achieve higher levels of patient satisfaction.