Nine Out of Ten Hospitals Have No Plan to Achieve Patient Satisfaction

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Small stick-figures listening to leader stick figure making a speech[Study] There’s a huge gap “between hospital management and frontline clinicians with respect to improving patient satisfaction,” according to a study out of Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), Boston. It seems as if “patient satisfaction” is everyone’s destination, but few hospitals have a map to get from here to there.

“While the majority of clinicians believe improving patient satisfaction in hospitals is possible, less than 10 percent said their department had a structured plan to achieve this improvement,” according to data published in the British Medical Journal Quality and Safety. [BMJ Qual Saf 2013;22:242-250 doi:10.1136/bmjqs-2012-001045]

The survey tapped into attitudes of clinicians towards hospital management activities with respect to improving patient satisfaction, involving clinicians in four academic hospitals in Denmark, Israel, the UK and the USA.

Among the key findings, overall, 90.4 percent of clinicians believed that improving patient satisfaction during hospitalization was achievable, but only 9.2 percent of clinicians thought their department had a structured plan to do so.

Researchers, lead by Ronen Rozenblum, PhD, MPH, Division of General Internal Medicine at Harvard Medical School, concluded: “It appears that while hospital management asserts that patient-centered care is important and invests in patient satisfaction and patient experience surveys, our findings suggest that the majority do not have a structured plan for promoting improvement of patient satisfaction and engaging clinicians in the process.”

Also, among the clinicians surveyed:

  • 38 percent remembered targeted actions that were conducted in their department in order to improve patient satisfaction;
  • 85 percent thought hospital management should take a more active role in patient satisfaction improvement programs; and
  • 83 percent believed achieving a high level of patient satisfaction was important for the clinical success of healthcare organizations.

Ultimately, the patient experience is at the bedside.

"Organizations that are successful in fostering a culture of patient-centered care have incorporated it as a strategic investment priority by committed leadership, active measurement, feedback of patient satisfaction and engagement of patients and staff," David Bates, MD, Chief Quality Officer at BWH said in a ScienceDaily article about the research.

If these numbers are representative of the real world, it suggests to us that, “a goal without a plan is just a dream.” Researchers indicated that a patient experience culture is key, and they have taken steps to test and implement a structured model for the future.

We'd like to hear what you think. Is there a patient satisfaction chasm between hospital management and frontline clinicians? Do you have a structured plan to drive improvement of patient satisfaction that engages clinicians in the process?  Please comment.

Lonnie Hirsch

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