It’s vital for healthcare providers to understand what motivates patients during this age of digitalized healthcare in making their decisions with respect to what healthcare professionals to choose and the quality of care they receive. Moreso, since the widespread industry shift to more patient-centric models, many healthcare organizations are actively tracking patient satisfaction drivers to help them position their practices as the leading provider of choice.
Why are patient satisfaction factors so important?
Patient satisfaction offers a valuable insight for healthcare providers looking to develop and implement solid strategic growth plans towards resilience and sustainability.
In fact, patient satisfaction can also affect a patient’s health directly. Research has shown, “Satisfaction with the care and hospital experience is important to the patient because evidence suggests satisfied patients are more likely to adhere to self-care instructions and have better clinical outcomes.”
So, what are the key drivers empowering patients in their healthcare-related decision-making and what does that mean for healthcare providers? Scroll down to read further:
Key Patient Satisfaction Drivers
According to a 2022 national patient survey conducted by JLL, the top items patients consider when determining their choice of healthcare provider and the care they receive revolve around three main areas:
Convenience…and location, location, location! – The majority of patients (83%) reported a travel time of less than 30 minutes to access the care they need. Those traveling longer – more than 45 minutes – tended to seek acute care. Generally, the convenience of location is the ongoing prevalent priority for patients.
Quality is king – Across generational and community demographics, patients are looking for a higher standard of care quality by way of more welcoming, modernized clinical experiences. Healthcare providers can do well to leverage patient preferences to inform their organizational strategic planning towards meeting these prevailing patient expectations related to quality.
Care at a click – The dramatic increase in telehealth/telemedicine services in recent years, particularly in the face of COVID-related restrictions, have changed the care delivery landscape. To better serve patients seeking more convenient, efficient care options, healthcare providers have embraced offering virtual care programs as a complement – not replacement – to their existing physical offices. As a result, healthcare providers may discover rising trends in patient access and visit engagement.
Identifying and measuring patient experiences can also assist in determining satisfaction drivers unique to healthcare fields. In studies focused on cancer care and hematology-oncology, patient experiences and perceptions of care played key roles in fostering improved operations including patient outcomes and clinician job satisfaction.
Strategies to Maximize Patient Satisfaction
Patient satisfaction drivers can offer valuable insights to overall organizational wellbeing, prompting many healthcare leaders worldwide to integrate this information into strategic planning models for their organizations.
Know better, do better.
A strong and sustainable patient experience improvement strategy plan starts with a comprehensive analysis of the factors that influence patient satisfaction. Healthcare providers aiming to realize responsive patient-centered care may do so in following three essential patient experience improving best practices:
1. Ensure convenient access to healthcare – From geographical to technological, patients can face several barriers to receiving the care they need, when they need it. In removing these barriers and offering services patients can access more readily (i.e., telehealth), healthcare organizations can better position themselves to foster consistent positive patient experiences.
Additionally, financial barriers to care should be included for consideration. As patients are increasingly expected to assume out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures in tandem with rising health insurance premiums, financial distress is a stark reality for many patients seeking care. However, to help address this, many healthcare organizations are implementing better cost transparency measures while governments work with healthcare providers towards finding effective financial assistance solutions for patients.
2. Reframe patient safety – Delivering high-quality, value-based care requires an active focus on patient safety which translates to positive patient experiences. To aptly achieve effective patient satisfaction, healthcare providers should consider reframing their approach of patient safety within their care quality improvement efforts: reduce patient suffering versus making patients “happy”.
Reduction of patient suffering can be attained in a variety of ways. Maintaining open and honest patient-provider communication, being attentive to a patient’s needs (e.g., checking call buttons or whether a patient requires assistance using a hospital or clinic’s washroom facilities), or ensuring proper treatment protocols are followed to avoid hospital-acquired infections are prime examples of reducing patient suffering and increasing comfort and trust…and overall patient satisfaction.
3. Embrace retail experience-inspired patient consumerism – In a time when patients are bearing more out-of-pocket expenses, they are becoming more selective of the healthcare providers they engage with…and where they invest in terms of the care they receive. Very similar in a retail consumer experience, what exemplifies value and return business for a customer lies not only in the quality of the goods or services offered, but a feeling of respect as well.
To put it more succinctly, as Peter S. Fine, FACHE, CEO of Banner Healthcare points out, “Healthcare organizations will need to live up to a new service expectation if they want to continue to win the business of their service savvy customers.” Healthcare providers using retail experiences as a guideline to shape their patient experience activities may set themselves on a direct course towards attaining optimal patient satisfaction.
At the core of effective patient-centered care lies the valuable gold nugget of patient experience. By tapping into that precious “golden” resource, healthcare providers striving to be the top patient choice will be well equipped to nurture patient satisfaction and successfully realize that organizational goal.