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24 Mar

TBT: Patient satisfaction vs. patient experience

TBT: Patient satisfaction vs. patient experience

Most might read the title of this blog post and think, “What’s the difference?!” While some organizations might use the terms patient satisfaction and patient experience interchangeably, they do represent two completely different ideas.

As Jason A. Wolf, Ph. D., President of The Beryl Institute so perfectly put it in a July 2014 Hospital Impact blog post, “Satisfaction, the idea of how positive someone feels about an encounter is an important metric, but experience encompasses more than just a sense of satisfaction. Satisfaction is in the moment, but experience is the lasting story.”

The patient experience is about creating connections with patients. Not just at one of your facilities, but throughout your whole organization. It isn’t just about one visit, but rather all visits and the patient’s perspective of your organization going forward. After all, you might think you’re writing the book on your organization, but patients are telling the story once they leave your facilities.

Some healthcare organizations have welcomed the differing patient experience concept with open arms and have taken the initiative to gauge how to create the best experience for their patients. Others that don’t understand or quite agree with the varying terms continue to rely on surveys that focus more on satisfaction.

Even the most prevalent patient surveys, like the be-all and end-all in the healthcare industry, the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey, probe about patient satisfaction rather than how to improve the experience. Such surveys ask did you like? vs. what would you recommend? This approach is not necessarily setting up healthcare organizations to look at and properly evaluate the overall picture that is the patient experience.  

As we roll into 2016, we will only continue to see the patient experience revolution continue to dominate conversations in the healthcare industry. With that being so -- what changes has OR will your organization make to gauge and improve the patient experience?

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