Last year, a source wondered what it would do for health care if someone like J.D. Power and Associates ranked medical devices the way it ranks cars.
This year, J.D. Power released a survey showing that it’s people, not tech, that make the difference in patient satisfaction. Meaning, if there’s a beautiful facility with the latest health IT devices and software filled with practitioners have poor interpersonal skills, the patients won’t like it.
In its unveiling of the survey of more than 10,000 patients, Power breaks down acute-care facilities into inpatient, outpatient, and emergency care categories. Analyzing the results, Rick Millard, senior director of the health care practice for the survey organization – which made its mark in the auto industry – makes an interesting comparison to its research on hotels.
In the hotel industry, guests say that the facility comprises 48% of their satisfaction, but patients say it accounts for 19% of their satisfaction. Also, check-in and check-out is analogous to admission and discharge to hospital facilities.
“Having an appealing hospital facility matters, but an experienced and socially skilled staff has a greater impact on patient satisfaction,” Millard said in a press release. “Personal interactions with the staff have a profound impact in both inpatient and outpatient settings.” When problems occur, staff reaction – service and attitude – weigh heavily in patient satisfaction.
How can IT help? First off, patient satisfaction will likely be a reporting metric for hospitals with quality-based payer programs (such as accountable care organizations and similar programs from commercial payers) and eventually, an outcome to measure – and improve upon. IT leaders and informaticists should now begin to figure how to measure patient satisfaction and point out to hospital leaders vulnerable areas (and practitioners) that might need a push for improvement.
Beyond that, J.D. Power notes that admissions, discharges and transitions of care seem to be pressure points that can improve or erode patient satisfaction. Furthermore, follow-up calls to patients after their hospital encounter also seems to make a positive impact toward overall patient satisfaction. Implementing technologies that make these processes more efficient and seamless – it would seem, based on the survey results – can help improve it.
Furthermore, it would follow that poor technology implementations and subpar education on strategies to best use it can negatively affect the attitude and stress level of practitioners and, by extension, patient satisfaction. Better thought-out technology implementations can only help in this regard.