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Patient satisfaction is one of the essential constituents of quality healthcare. Despite the fact that healthcare ratings obtained from patients might be based on criteria different from those regarded as extremely important by healthcare providers, they illustrate patients’ personal healthcare preferences which contribute to the perceived quality. Various instruments are used to assess patient satisfaction with hospital service. Therefore, healthcare facilities adopt more than one instrument to evaluate patient satisfaction (Shelton, 2000). An example is the short self-administered survey form. Questioning patients about health care experience is an efficient way to assess the quality of current health care personnel and unveil key problems associated with the quality of care (Rattue, 2012). In addition, questioning is a significant marketing tool because it aims at increasing patient’s satisfaction, maintaining patient’s loyalty, and improving patient’s referrals (Sultz & Young, 2010). This paper discusses the factors that influence patient satisfaction by reviewing various articles.
Various research such as one conducted by Joshua Fenton of University of California have asserted that patient satisfaction is associated with factors such as higher chances of inpatient hospitalization, higher health care prescription costs, and high mortality risks (Rattue, 2012). Researchers took a national sample to generate appropriate data to perform a potential regiment study. The sample constituted of 51,946 persons who participated in national Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from the year 2000 to 2007 (Rattue, 2012).
According to Rattue (2012) persons with higher mortality risks, higher health care costs, and higher prescription drug costs indicated higher patient satisfaction. Moreover, individuals with higher patient satisfaction had fewer emergency visits to health care facilities and higher chances of inpatient admission (Rattue, 2012).
A combination of increased inpatient care and reduced emergency department use seems critical for patients’ satisfaction (Rattue, 2012). This is because it seems impossible to determine if the most satisfied patients might be differentially hospitalized for less urgent or elective symptoms. In addition, non-elective urgent hospital admissions frequently commence with emergency department visits (Rattue, 2012). It is also illogical that the least satisfied patients will seek heath care at emergency departments more willingly than at outpatient clinics. Despite the fact that highly satisfied patients had better physical and mental condition than less satisfied patients, the research strongly pointed out that patient’s satisfaction might indicate some illnesses of persons who depend more on their physicians (Rattue, 2012). The research also highlighted that physicians approve the discretionary service that might provide little or no medical help.
Physicians might also provide discretionary services such as advanced imaging for acute low back pain if this can increase patient satisfaction (Rattue, 2012). There is a lack of complete understanding of contributors to patient’s satisfaction and their effects on health care as indicated by the research. The factors that affect patient’s satisfaction deserve thoughtful interpretation and further analysis (Rattue, 2012). Essentially, without extra measures that ensure patient-centered healthcare, too much emphasis on patient’s satisfaction can result in increased health care expenditures. This implies that measures to provide patient satisfaction might be ill-guided (Rattue, 2012). This is because they encourage health care providers to meet requests for optional health care services. The optional health care services might result in higher costs and other adverse outcomes.
The article Measuring Quality of Care published by New York Times cautions against emphasizing too much on customer satisfaction when evaluating patient care and hospital care (Umbdenstock, 2012). The article asserts that awareness of hospital’s health care provisions is a significant aspect of analyzing the quality of its care (Umbdenstock, 2012). The article also points out that the American Hospital Association (AHA) advocates for the use of data concerning patients’ experience of care as part of public reporting (Umbdenstock, 2012). AHA believes that the present satisfaction survey, although still requiring improvements, is the most effective tool for measuring the quality of care. These improvements should account for the varying levels of experience of care among different patients (Umbdenstock, 2012).
The survey results of Medicare reflect the areas that have undergone improvements in the healthcare system (Cheung, 2011). Presently many hospitals are concerned with patients’ satisfaction and reimbursements. As an incentive, Medicare plans to consider patients’ satisfaction sores when reimbursing hospitals. This seems beneficial to well-performing hospitals which will secure the incentives. Contrarily, some hospitals will have their reimbursement crumbled under the new regulations. This implies that hospitals receiving low scores of patient satisfaction might not agree with the subjective ratings. These hospitals are most likely to be penalized financially by the government for inappropriate practices (Cheung, 2011).
The article points out that patient satisfaction ratings are derived from survey questions such as “Was the room clean?” and “Was the pain well controlled?”. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare will withhold 1% of fixed reimbursement depending on the performance of institutions on these questions (Cheung, 2011). This is approximately $850 mln. Patient experience contributes for 30 per cent of bonus reimbursement. The article also indicates that hospitals that have a rating of 9 or 10 out 10 qualify for Medicare credit. According to the results of the research, 67 per cent of patients offered their hospitals the top two ratings (Cheung, 2011). Approximately 58 per cent of patients said that they enjoyed quiet environments and 60 per cent reported that their physicians and nurses communicated efficiently about medications.
In conclusion, patient’s satisfaction is associated with factors such as higher chances of inpatient hospitalization, higher health care prescription costs, and high mortality risks. Physicians might also provide discretionary services such as advanced imaging for acute low back pain if these measures can increase patient satisfaction. Presently many hospitals are concerned with patient satisfaction and reimbursements. Patient satisfaction might indicate illnesses of persons who depend more on their physicians.
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