Patient satisfaction has become a top priority for many healthcare providers, from solo practices to large health systems. It’s a key component of healthcare consumerism, which refers to the choice and responsibility of paying for and managing one’s own health.
There are a variety of definitions of patient satisfaction, but basically, it’s whether a patient’s expectations of their medical care are met and their contentment with their healthcare provider(s). Just like there are many ways to define it, there are multiple ways to measure it, one of the most used being the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Survey.
Types of Patient Satisfaction Surveys
A 27-question survey created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in partnership with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the HCAHPS Survey is the first national, standardized and publicly reported survey of patients’ perspectives on hospital care. Over 4,000 hospitals participate in HCAHPS, and over three million patients annually complete the survey.
Three main goals comprise the HCAHPS, including:
- Producing data about patients’ perspectives of care that allow objective and meaningful comparisons of hospitals on topics that are important to consumers
- Utilizing public reporting of the survey results to create new incentives for hospitals to improve quality of care
- Employing public reporting serves to enhance accountability in healthcare by increasing transparency of the quality of hospital care provided in return for the public investment
This survey has produced some interesting results. A study published in the Journal of American Medicine found that patients who are more satisfied based on their responses to the HCAHPS Survey are less likely to visit emergency departments, but are more likely to become inpatients and have higher healthcare costs and increased mortality rates.
Also an AHRQ survey, the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®), is commonly used in outpatient care settings. As AHRQ notes, CAHPS surveys ask patients to report on their experiences with a range of healthcare services at multiple levels of the delivery system. Users of CAHPS survey results include patients and consumers, healthcare professionals, public and private purchasers of healthcare, healthcare accreditation organizations, health plans and regional improvement collaboratives.
Another oft-used method for measuring patient satisfaction is through digital surveys. Also utilized to measure access to and quality of care, medication adherence and gaps in care practices to make business decisions that impact the experience of their patient, thereby continuously working to improve how care is delivered — with the patient at the center.
Provider advantages of digital patient satisfaction surveys consist of real-time feedback, a higher response rate, improvement efficiencies and the capability for customization. When developing these surveys, provider staff should stick to fewer than 10 questions, target a 10-20 percent response rate and communicate any changes to patients. Only questions related to areas in which the practice is willing to change or improve should be asked, and improvements that directly impact the patient experience should be prioritized.
Some digital patient surveys in healthcare use the 0-10 Net Promoter Scale® or another quantitative measurement to get feedback on their patients’ satisfaction. Patients who respond with a predetermined high experience score can automatically receive links to social media review sites where they can share their positive experience with the public. This can boost online ratings and reviews, which may help attract new patients seeking a provider.
Why Healthcare Providers Should Measure Patient Satisfaction
Measuring patient satisfaction is especially important as providers continue to transition to value-based care. It enables them to continually improve the level of care they provide to their patients, boost patient retention and maintain a positive reputation. Such measurement can even be used to gauge provider staff productivity and address as needed.
As an article published in the Journal of Patient Experience noted, patient satisfaction influences providers’ reimbursement rate. The authors of the article pointed out that satisfied patients tend to adhere to medical treatment, which is especially important for patients with chronic conditions.
No matter what type of measurement method is used, understanding the reasons(s) that affect patient satisfaction is crucial. The range of factors that influence patient satisfaction are:
- Expectations of care
- Communication with physicians and staff
- Responsiveness of physician and staff
- Pain management
- Timeliness of phone calls, appointments and results
Improving Patient Satisfaction by Understanding Patient Preferences
Besides measuring patient satisfaction, knowing how to increase it can make a noticeable difference for healthcare providers. Increasingly, patients choose physician practices that offer digital health tools, as evidenced by the following statistics:
- Nearly 60 percent of consumers conduct research online when looking for a new provider.
- Approximately 40 percent of consumers now prefer to book appointments online.
- Over 90 percent of patients want to use digital tools to interact with their care providers.
- Roughly 92 percent of patients want to use online payment tools.
- A Deloitte survey of technology executives of 25 health systems found that most respondents want the desired outcome from digital transformation to include a better patient experience and improved care quality.
- According to an Accenture survey of 2,700 patients, 60 percent of respondents said they want to continue meeting with healthcare providers and manage their conditions using technology implemented as a result of COVID-19.
Although these numbers are clear proof of many consumers’ preference to use digital health tools to communicate with their providers, a survey of health systems professionals conducted by the Center for Connected Medicine and HIMSS found that fewer than one-in-three respondents believe their organization is providing best-in-class digital experiences for patients. Unfortunately, this lack of digital health utilization often has a negative effect on provider staff by requiring them to perform administrative tasks which could otherwise be automated.
Fortunately, Providertech can help. Our CareRetention solution is an automated platform that helps care providers collect and respond to care-centered feedback in real-time – allowing patients to be heard and your business to measure patient satisfaction. Plus, it helps to minimize negative reviews, resulting in an elevated reputation. Schedule a demo of CareRetention to see how to enhance your patients’ satisfaction.