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Improving patient satisfaction: Care coordination and communication technology

Myths of patient satisfaction

Myths and misperceptions about patient satisfaction need to be overcome when seeking out patient input, writes Richard Bolton Siegrist Jr. in the AMA Journal of Ethics. One myth is that patients won’t fill out surveys. Siegrist notes that “the average hospital response rate was 32 percent, substantially higher than other sectors.” Other myths are that patients who fill out the surveys are not happy with their care. Siegel points out that “In HCAHPS national results, 70 percent of responding patients rated their hospitals 9 or 10 overall on a scale of 0 to 10.”

To truly identify meaningful change for patient satisfaction, hospitals must “go beyond the numerical rankings to analyzing the comments—especially those about staff interaction,” Siegrist says. Patients consistently rank interaction with the health care staff as paramount in how they evaluate their health care experience, and want communication and explanation from staff. “If nurses and doctors communicate well with patients and explain what is happening and what to expect, patients react quite favorably and tend to overlook less positive aspects of their experiences.”

Care coordination and patient satisfaction

If hospitals need to boost patient satisfaction rankings, it’s productive to focus on improving care coordination. A study in The Journal of Ambulatory Care Management  looked at 1,367 patients with diabetes. The study’s authors found a “Robust positive relationship between improvements in care coordination and patient satisfaction with overall chronic care, their own regular doctor, and the way that care was organized.”

A study published in the BMJ Quality and Safety Journal correlated patient satisfaction scores from the HCAHPS survey to specific engagement strategies such as creating and sharing a discharge summary prior to discharge, using a discharge planner, and calling patients 48 hours post-discharge. The study found that the hospitals that used those patient engagement strategies had significantly higher HCAHPS survey scores than hospitals that did not.

Communication technology that improves patient satisfaction

One of the challenges in patient communication is actually being able to reach them. The answer is texting. At least 97% of smartphone owners text regularly, and the average response time to a text message is 90 seconds.

For an orthopedic center in Pennsylvania, a secure texting application was key to high patient satisfaction among perioperative patients. Secure texting in real time enabled patients to communicate easily with surgeons who were personally involved in their care, alleviating anxiety and improving their experience.

About Backline

Backline is a messaging platform for health systems that goes beyond secure texting. Our mobile platform accelerates clinical communication and gives your care teams the power to collaborate seamlessly in real time. Health systems using Backline optimize their efficiency, while increasing clinician and patient satisfaction.