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Patient Satisfaction Is More about Intangible Care than Final Results or Treatment Outcomes

Career News July 17, 2014

Patients with positive treatment outcomes are generally satisfied with the tangible results that can be seen and felt following a hospitalization. However, happiness with the final results does not always correlate with the quality of care that was received during a hospital stay. A study published in Oxford Journals shows that interpersonal skills of the medical personnel were often more important than clinical skills when determining overall patient satisfaction. However, patient satisfaction can lead to better health outcomes. As noted by the Center for Advancing Health, patient satisfaction leads to increased patient compliance for better outcomes and health as well as a continuing relationship between the patient and the hospital. In order to achieve successful patient satisfaction, the perceptions of the patient must at least meet their expectations.

Communication and Patient Expectations

Medical personnel and hospital staff have the opportunity to set the tone for patient expectations from the very onset of services. It is important to let the patient know what to expect in the way of testing, procedures and wait times to reduce confusion and unnecessary frustration for the patient. If the patient is given a time range in which to expect such services or results, the patient is typically more satisfied with the overall quality of care.

Increased Time with Medical Personnel

Good communication also involves taking the time to listen to the patient’s concerns and to answer any questions that the patient or family members may have. Whether it is time spent with the doctor, a nurse or other medical personnel, the patient should feel that the hospital unit as a whole cares about him or her as an individual and not objectified as a condition to be treated. This can often be accomplished by spending more time with the patient.

Interpersonal Skills and Patient Perceptions of Quality of Care

Interpersonal skills involve more than just smiling and answering patient questions. Hospital caregivers must choose to have a dialogue with the patient and members of the patient’s family rather than just spouting information or directions. The patient needs to feel that hospital personnel actually care about any issues and are working on behalf of the patient and not just to make a profit.

Employee Satisfaction Increases Patient Satisfaction

Patients can tell when hospital employees are unhappy with their jobs. Maintaining a healthy employee structure in the hospital culture can help to improve patient satisfaction as well. According to a study published by John Hopkins Medicine, an environment that brought about feelings of safety and teamwork among the employees increased patient satisfaction. In order to increase employee happiness, hospitals can begin with a few measures, such as:

•Choosing correction over punishment
•Developing purpose over job function
•Eliminating disrespect and bullying by supervisors of other employees

Contented employees will better serve patients, for increased patient satisfaction.

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