Using Twitter to Stay Informed - Patient Satisfaction vs. Patient-Centered CareJuly 9th, 2012 2 Min read Blog
As marketers, focusing on customer satisfaction is paramount to our work, as it is a key ingredient in building and maintaining brand credibility. Satisfaction on behalf of the consumer is an important part of any transaction with a corporation and is often used by the latter as an indicator of quality. Hospitals and healthcare facilities are no different. Many facilities ensure their customers -- their patients -- are pleased with the services they are receiving through surveys, which return quantifiable feedback as a measure of quality; a measure that can be used to build the credibility of the organization. As more healthcare organizations focus on favorable patient outcomes and the phrase "patient-centered care" becomes part of the vernacular, just what is it and how is it different from patient satisfaction? This tweet from Kevin MD (@kevinmd) links to a JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association) article that discusses just that: "Patient Satisfaction and Patient-Centered Care: Necessary but Not Equal." The authors of the article, Dr. Kupfer and Dr. Bond, discuss both concepts and make an argument that the sometimes sole focus by hospitals on patient satisfaction scores as a measurement of quality might be broken in regards to ensuring the best patient outcomes. Patient-centered care, unlike patient satisfaction, is not solely about meeting the patient's desires as a consumer; it's about ensuring the best outcomes for the patient by prescribing the appropriate medical attention. Because of the complexity of delivering medical care, patient desires don't always match their medical needs. For example, if a patient wants a test that the physician deems unnecessary, the patient might not think they are receiving a quality experience. Conversely, the physician who deemed the test unnecessary does so because he or she is focused on the best outcome for the patient. This is not to say that patient-centered care is delivered without input from the patient or without regard for their experience. In a healthy balance, the physician and patient work together on the best outcome and the most comfortable process. This collaboration, in theory, should increase patient satisfaction. In an era of accountable care and a constantly changing healthcare landscape, hospitals and healthcare facilities need to stay flexible and constantly re-examine their strategies for delivering and measuring care to ensure they are serving their patients in the best way possible.