Patient satisfaction is more important than ever. It is increasingly being recognized as a key component in how patients choose providers, whether patients have positive outcomes and how practices and hospitals are reimbursed.
Cleveland Clinic is one example of a healthcare institution that takes patient satisfaction seriously. Approximately 190,000 patients per year complete the hospital’s Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) survey. The results are published anonymously on the hospital’s website for all to see.
Cleveland Clinic explains its reasons for this transparency: “We know that the physician-patient relationship is a critical element toward achieving trust, satisfaction and positive outcomes. For this reason, we are compelled to offer our patients and our community meaningful feedback offered from prior patients to help them choose a physician.” Below, we will uncover what you need to know about patient satisfaction surveys and the factors that profoundly influence patients’ experience in your practice.
1. How Data Drives Improvement
Most healthcare providers currently use surveys developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which include CAHPS as well as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). CMS also has other surveys specific to patient satisfaction in home health, hospice and other areas of health care.
While a survey such as HCAHPS “does provide important insights into the patient’s experience, it does not assess all of the important aspects of that experience,” notes health care consultants from McKinsey & Company. “Furthermore, it was not designed to provide the level of detail needed for hospitals to link patient satisfaction with business performance.”3 McKinsey recommends taking a comprehensive approach to measuring patient satisfaction, including both clinical and nonclinical factors.
2. Why Happiness and Satisfaction Are Not the Same
It is important to recognize that patients’ happiness and satisfaction with their care are two different things. Likewise, while the terms patient satisfaction and patient experience are often used interchangeably, “in reality, they are intended to be different,” says Dr. Dorrah, the author of Physician’s Guide to Surviving CGCAHPS & HCAHPS. “For example, if you diagnose Mr. Thomas with diabetes, he won’t be happy, but he can still be satisfied with the overall clinic experience,” says Dr. Dorrah.4
She explains how standardized outpatient surveys such as the CG-CAHPS (Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) try to differentiate the care experience from the patient’s emotions. “This is helpful because it’s easier to improve an experience.” Doctors should accept that even when using standardized surveys, measuring patient satisfaction is not an exact science, and a lot of factors that contribute to this score are out of the physician’s control.
3. What You Can Control
Of course, you cannot please every patient, but you can focus on the factors you have the most control over. Our team put together a patient satisfaction survey for your practice based on key insights and what we’ve seen work for our provider’s practices. Download the PDF of our Patient Satisfaction Survey here!