Patient experience and patient satisfaction are often thought of as one and the same. But it turns out the two concepts are very different sides of the same coin. And that’s an important distinction for the health care industry to understand, according to a recent article from PatientEngagementHIT.
So what’s the difference? According to the Beryl Institute, patient experience is “the sum of all interactions, shaped by an organization’s culture, that influence patient perceptions across the continuum of care.” Items ranging from simplicity of scheduling appointments to access to personal health records have an effect on whether patients believe they received quality care or not.
On the other hand, patient satisfaction weighs the patient’s expectations of care against reality – were they pleased with their room? What about the physician’s bedside manner?
It’s possible to have a positive patient experience but a negative treatment outcome. Likewise, a patient could be fully healed but be unsatisfied with their care due to expectations that the health care facility did not deliver. That’s why patient experience is a key driver of quality improvement. Eliminating risks and reducing patient suffering is directly correlated to positive patient experiences, so making processes safer and more patient-centered leads to happier, safer and healthier patients.
But patient satisfaction is still important, even if it is subjective:
The healthcare industry has become consumer-centric, especially as patients spend more of their own money to pay for healthcare. Organization leaders are looking to drive patient satisfaction – and not just experience – to maintain or grow their market share.
For health care providers, it’s about providing the care patients want and need without sacrificing quality. Both experience and satisfaction should be paid attention to, but they also need to be understood on their own as separate quality measures.