Applying a one-size-fits all approach to patient satisfaction is a sure-fire way to fail, experts say.
Where a patient receives care in a hospital has a lot to do with what types of care the patient values most.
In inpatient settings, for instance, patients value nursing care the most. In the emergency department, overall personal safety and continuity of care are most important. For pediatric care, factors affecting patient satisfaction vary a lot depending on which department patients are in, according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Medical Quality.
"Depending on where you are, one size does not fit all," says Stephen Lawless, MD, MBA, enterprise vice president of quality and safety at Nemours Children Health System and one of the authors of the study.
Delaware-based Lawless and his fellow researchers also found that for each one-hour increase in total time spent in the ED, satisfaction decreased by nearly three percentage points. On the flip side, patients who received a follow-up call after discharge from the ED rated their satisfaction significantly higher. Providing a patient's bill of rights during inpatient also boosted satisfaction scores.
"If you think about it, that makes sense," Lawless says of the findings.
But it's not always easy to think about these things when there are so many other important tasks for clinicians to accomplish. After all, the healthcare system is largely designed to be supportive of healthcare providers' work, rather than the needs of the patient, points out Sandra Myerson, MBA, MS, BSN, RN, Senior Vice President and Chief Patient Experience Officer at New York's Mount Sinai Health System.
But by doing things such as applying a one-size-fits all approach to patient satisfaction, something else does get easier: Sinking your satisfaction scores.
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.