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Patient Satisfaction Increasing at Hospitals Nationwide

Heather Comak, for HealthLeaders Media, November 20, 2009

Patients were more satisfied with their care at inpatient facilities than during any of the previous six years, according to a report released last week from Press Ganey Associates, Inc.

The 2009 Hospital Pulse Report: Patient Perspectives on American Health Care revealed this trend and others based on a survey of about three million patients at 2,000 hospitals across the country during 2008. Press Ganey, a company that works with 40% of U.S. hospitals to measure and improve the quality of care as well as administer the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, also found that patients were more likely to recommend a facility at which they'd received care to family and friends.

Patient satisfaction has steadily increased since 2003, with 85% of those surveyed reporting satisfaction with care in October 2008. The report outlined some specific regional trends in patient satisfaction. The top five metropolitan areas that were rated highest by respondents were Baton Rouge, LA; Columbus, OH; Oklahoma City, OK; Cleveland, OH; and Toledo, OH. The top five states were Maine, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Montana.

"Overall, we are pleased to see the increased efforts and sustained results even through tough economic times," said Deirdre Mylod, PhD, vice president of hospital services, Press Ganey. "With healthcare reform on the horizon, we are optimistic we will see additional improvements in the patient experience, as hospitals will have even more evidence for the synergies between patient satisfaction and the bottom line, especially with regard to reimbursement."

The report identifies as a catalyst for quality improvement that hospitals began publicly HCAHPS data in March 2008, and in turn increased patient satisfaction scores. Some members of the public are turning to the site to find information for comparing inpatient care in their area. However, according to the report, the larger effect has been that providers are aware of their own scores, as well as competitors’ scores, and are putting more effort into delivering patient-centered care as a result.

So in what areas can hospitals improve upon? Respondents gave these suggestions:

  • Facilities can address the emotional needs of patients better

  • Staff members can keep patients more involved with care decisions and treatment plans

  • Nurses can communicate better with patients

  • Staff members can respond to patients more promptly when they use call buttons

Heather Comak is a Managing Editor at HCPro, Inc., where she is the editor of the monthly publication Briefings on Patient Safety, as well as patient safety-related books and audio conferences. She is also is the Assistant Director of the Association for Healthcare Accreditation Professionals. Contact Heather by e-mailing hcomak@hcpro.com.

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