A study from Johns Hopkins University made headlines recently, when it proclaimed that patient satisfaction may not be a good indicator of surgical quality. They looked at patient satisfaction and surgical quality measures at 31 urban hospitals in 10 states and found little relationship between the two.
However, just because there isn’t a correlation doesn’t mean patients won’t have perceptions that say the opposite. More and more we see patients giving service attributes equal or more weight than a hospital’s clinical prowess.
We heard some of these anecdotes from presentations at the recent
Patient Experience Conference 2013:
- “Patients associate their billing experience satisfaction with clinical satisfaction.”
- “81% of patients feel a strong social media presence indicates a hospital’s clinical functions are cutting edge.”
This tells us that the service “envelope” around the medical procedure is valuable to patients and their families. In the automotive industry, the showroom experience became equally important to the quality of the car. Lexus and other manufacturers learned this quickly and used improvements in the “envelope” to create a competitive advantage.
Even though many providers say this kind of association is unfair, it’s happening everywhere. An article in The Scotsman found that patients place equal important on hospital food and parking as they do their surgeon’s clinical ability. The BMJ Open study focused on joint replacement surgery patients.
Another study on total joint arthroplasty found that a change in surgeons for revisions produced significantly improved patient satisfaction in patients who were previously dissatisfied.
These are cases where satisfaction is directly related to “perceived” surgical quality, but if the surgeries were evaluated on objective quality measures there still may not be a direct correlation. Many of the complaints were about physician communication and personality conflicts, not clinical ability.
What these examples do show is that the patient experience must be addressed as a whole, from start to finish from the patient’s point of view. Every single interaction has to be included from scheduling to addressing post-op follow-up questions.
If you are ready to tackle improving your total joint replacement patient experience, download a free whitepaper from Wellbe.