What drives patient satisfaction?

By William Seidman Two recent developments have put the medical community under the microscope. First, the Minnesota Supreme Court is considering whether to hear a case in which a doctor is suing the son of one of his patients because the son posted criticisms on a rate-your-doctor website. The case illustrates the role of social media in medical practice. Consumers can publicly criticize their doctors online, having a significant impact on the reputations of doctors and hospitals. Second, Medicare is tying reimbursement to patient satisfaction scores (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, or HCAHPS, and pay for performance). If hospitals don’t improve their patient satisfaction scores, they are at risk of losing reimbursements. Medicare is expected to add more than 20 million new patients over the next few years, so improving patient satisfaction is absolutely imperative if hospitals want to remain financially successful. Some may dispute the validity of social media reviews and patient satisfaction scores, but no one can argue that patient satisfaction doesn’t matter. Though there are many elements that contribute to patient satisfaction: nursing support, physician interaction, outpatient clinical procedures, admissions, billing administration and others.The bottom line is that patient satisfaction is driven most by a hospital’s core culture. Leaders in the medical community are recognizing more and more that there is a connection between their cultures and patient satisfaction. They also realize that many people and roles within their organizations are not inherently patient-focused. Transforming hospitals to be more patient-centric calls for significant cultural change, yet it’s complicated by the complexity of hospital processes, financial pressures, and current attitudes and behaviors. Physicians themselves are trained to think of themselves as experts in their fields. As a result, these experts are often reluctant to adopt new behaviors and attitudes. How can a hospital undertake this difficult task?]]>

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