Our world has become increasingly consumer-driven, and the healthcare industry is no exception. While clothing companies, airlines, and hotels have always centered on consumer satisfaction, health systems more recently adopted this model. This is a natural shift as CMS reimbursements and hospital rankings have become strongly linked to patients’ satisfaction scores. Delivering quality care is always a top priority, but it is now more pertinent than ever for hospitals to invest in the patient experience. We have outlined three ways that providers can ensure investments provide maximal benefit to both patients and organizations.
1. Link patient satisfaction and organizational objectives
It is important that healthcare providers do not neglect broader organizational objectives when adopting patient-centered initiatives. First, health systems must decide on primary objectives. While some may wish to focus on total patient volume, others may place greater emphasis on patient retention. With a specific focus, providers can then assess patient satisfaction in a way that relates to that objective.
2. Identify the strongest influences on patient satisfaction
While HCAHPS surveys provide important insight into patient satisfaction, as McKinsey noted in its white paper,“Measuring the patient experience: Lessons from other industries,” these surveys were not designed to assess all of the aspects of the patient experience in great detail. Hospitals must supplement HCAHPS results with additional initiatives to pinpoint the key drivers of patient satisfaction. In addition to clinical factors, including communication with doctors and medication information, hospitals must also take into account non-clinical factors, such as quietness of the room and food services.
Digital tools for data collection and analysis can be particularly beneficial when trying to recognize the strongest influences on patient satisfaction. Once these factors have been identified, hospitals can modify workflow and prioritize efforts accordingly to improve the patient experience.
3. View the patient experience more holistically
A patient’s perception of care is formed through several touchpoints, from pre-admission scheduling to follow-up care. To understand and improve patient satisfaction, hospitals must view the patient experience as a continuum of care. The hospital can then hone in on each step within the continuum, identifying what is shaping patient satisfaction from end-to-end. Viewing an episode of care in this way ensures that efforts for improving patient satisfaction will be comprehensive and effective, and will not neglect any aspect of the care experience.
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