The concepts of “patient experience” and “patient satisfaction” have generally been accepted as good business practices for many years. It’s been easy enough to assume that in healthcare, as in retail or service industries, “happy customers” will be the source of repeat business, referrals of family and friends (and fewer problems.)
But unlike the retail world, healthcare delivery has a working dynamic that is less extensively documented or understood. The question is: Does the patient experience positively influence patient compliance, adherence and outcomes?
The evidence is fairly substantial (and growing) that it does.
Respected surveys and studies are documenting how the user experience and patient satisfaction are important, and sometimes primary, influencing factors throughout the healthcare delivery continuum. Here is a round up of some of the key references:
Journal of Family Practice: Physicians’ comprehensive knowledge of patients, and patients’ trust in their physician, were the variables most strongly associated with adherence. Trust was the variable most strongly associated with patients’ satisfaction with their physician. Adherence rates were 2.6 times higher among patients with whole-person knowledge scores in the 95th percentile, and the likelihood of complete satisfaction was 87.5 percent. Safran, et al, Linking primary care performance to outcomes of care, Journal of Family Practice 47.3.
PricewaterhouseCoopers: For healthcare consumers, personal experience is the number one reason for choosing a doctor or hospital. A PwC report compared healthcare consumer purchasing attitudes with several other industries. They found that personal experience was two times more important in healthcare than it is to consumers in other industries.
Further, the PwC findings tell us that provider staff attitude is a defining factor for 70 percent of patients, compared to 38 percent of retail shoppers and 33 percent of banking and hospitality industry customers.
J.D. Power and Associates: Patient satisfaction is influenced most by human factors…more than physician credentials, equipment or amenities. The J.D. Power and Associates 2012 National Patient Experience Study credits the hospital staff and superior service-related communications skills.
Academic Medicine/Jefferson Medical College (Study): Patients with empathetic doctors have better outcomes and are less likely to experience complications. “This new, large-scale research study has confirmed that empathic physician-patient relationships is an important factor in positive outcomes,” Mohammadreza Hojat, PhD, research professor in the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Jefferson Medical College. There is a direct, positive relationship between physicians’ empathy and patients’ clinical outcomes for patients with diabetes.
In any medical encounter—a hospital or physician practice setting—those activities that improve the patient’s healthcare experience and satisfaction also help facilitate better health and clinical outcomes. A positive patient experience enhances trust in the provider and is a significant factor in selection, adherence, compliance and outcomes.
Patient satisfaction is the indispensable outcome.