patient satisfaction

Hospital Marketing: Customer Satisfaction Scores Decline in Healthcare and Energy

Hospital customer satisfaction levels declined in the past year, joining the energy sector as the only two industries whose scores declined.  And this in spite of a strong emphasis on patient satisfaction by hospital CEOs.

Times have been tough in this economy.  For almost everyone.  And it’s true for hospitals as well.  It has led to implementation of various cost saving initiatives in most hospitals.  And in some, it has necessitated layoffs.  It appears the result has also caused a decline in patient satisfaction.  According to American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which measures consumer satisfaction for ten economic sectors, hospitals’ satisfaction scores fell 5 % over the past year. Only the energy sector joined hospitals with a decline.  It’s clear why there was a decline in the energy sector but both surprising and troubling there was a decline with hospitals.

The results were reported by Philip Betbeze in HealthLeaders Media.  Overall hospital satisfaction dropped 5% with inpatient satisfaction recording the largest decrease.  This is especially interesting when more and more hospital leaders are stating they are placing a stronger emphasis on patient satisfaction.

In fact, Betbeze reports that in the 2010 HelathLeaders Media Industry Survey, many leaders are making patient satisfaction their number priority.  Over 38% selected patient satisfaction as their top priority and it was near the top in most of the other surveys.

Hopefully, this increased emphasis on patient satisfaction will turn the tide and lead to significant increases in future surveys. It needs to.  Declining patient satisfaction will lead to trouble in many other ways and will certainly negatively impact our hospitals’ brands.  When that happens there are long-term effects.

Sure there is great pressure in hospitals to cut costs in the face of a struggling economy, decreased reimbursements and an uncertain industry environment.  But as Betbeze correctly states, “investments in patient satisfaction require more commitment than cash. In fact, relative to other investments hospitals have to make, such as high-tech imaging systems, new patient towers, and new operating suites, patient satisfaction improvement is instead based on clean rooms and hallways, better, hotter food, better service, and more eye contact, among other, seemingly simple fixes. Those things improve with culture”

It is certainly disheartening to see satisfaction scores decrease while management makes it a top priority. Hopefully it means there is not just lip service to the problem but the results just haven’t been fully manifested and thus not appearing in the survey results yet.  It is certainly a necessity to stop the decline and improve satisfaction scores.  So much depends on it.  There are many things in healthcare that management cannot control but a patient-centered culture and a commitment to patient satisfaction is one that can be impacted.  It must be!


Hospital Marketing: It’s all about the Patient

The emphasis on patient experience has not only improved patient care but it is also improving the health of healthcare organizations.

The past few years has seen an emphasis by hospitals on patient experience. There has been a concerted effort to improve patient satisfaction.  And it appears to be working.   According to a report from Press Ganey,  patient satisfaction has been improving since 2003 with 85% of those surveyed in 2008 reported they were satisfied with the care they received.

The report also shows that hospitals are reaping the benefits of improved customer satisfaction.  Some of the findings are:

1. There is a direct correlation between highly satisfied caregivers and satisfied patients.  And that in return helps in recruitment and retention of doctors and staff.

2. Hospitals that deliver superior customer satisfaction are more likely to be recommended by patients thus increasing their market share, and this of course contributes to the hospital’s bottom line.

3. Staff buy-in to improved patient satisfaction leads to a more positive work environment, which contributes to better patient care.

4. Satisfied customers are less likely to file malpractice lawsuits.

But there is room for improvement.  Glenna Shaw, in an article in Healthcare Leaders Media, cites five areas from the study where hospitals need improvement. In order of priority, they are:

1. Response to concerns and complaints during the patient’s stay.

2.  Degree to which hospital staff addressed the patient’s emotional needs

3.  Staff effort to include the patient in decisions about his or her treatment.

4.  How well the nurses kept the patient informed.

5. How promptly staff responded to the call button.

The survey also noted that service recovery was a key component to patient satisfaction.  One of the key factors is how the hospital responds when things go wrong or when a patient’s needs are not met.

We have known it all along in every other business category.  Now we are beginning to realize that it’s also true for healthcare.  It’s just common sense.  It IS all about the customer…patient!


Hospital Marketing: Want Satisfied Patients? Make Sure Your Employees Are Happy

smiling faceResearch indicates that highly satisfied employees deliver higher levels of patient satisfaction.

How do you create a successful marketing strategy to improve patient satisfaction?

1.   The latest technology.

2.   Remind employees to provide a high level of service.

3.   Having patient reps check with patients to address any needs or concerns. 

4.   Solicit feedback from patients and provide a process for dealing with issues of  concern.

5.  Implement quality initiatives throughout the hospital. 

All of these are extremely important.

But a recent study indicates that maybe the largest factor in patient satisfaction is employees who are highly satisfied with their job and work environment.  A study conducted by the University of Wisconsin and Northwestern University at a New York Hospital and commissioned by Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement indicated that patients have a higher level of satisfaction when their care is delivered by highly satisfied employees.  Forum President, Michelle Smith, stated, “In the healthcare industry, as in other service-related businesses, having engaged, empowered, loyal employees can lead to increased retention, lower costs, enhanced reputations and a profitable business picture.” 

Regardless, of all the quality initiatives imposed on employees, unless they are happy and satisfied with their job, patient experiences will not be good.  Happy employees deliver superior service.  In fact, the research indicated that patients are more likely to recommend a hospital to others if happy, satisfied employees treat them.

 It’s obvious isn’t it? A satisfied employee delivers better care. We really don’t need research to tell us that do we?   Even though it’s intellectually obvious, hospitals spend so much time and effort imposing guidelines and mandates and quality initiatives without investing in employee job satisfaction.  Certainly the emphasis should be on the patient.  But there must also be a strong emphasis on employee satisfaction. 

  • Creating the right environment
  • Encouraging and empowering employees
  • Honoring and recognizing outstanding employee service
  • Demonstrating genuine concern and interest in employees

These things pay huge dividends!

Competitive salaries are important but ALL the components that create employee satisfaction must be emphasized.

Want to provide a high level of patient care and better patient experience?  Do everything possible to make employees happy.  It will be an investment that will pay rich dividends for the patient and the hospital.