August 25, 2023

The Invisible Hand of Patient Satisfaction

Identifying the true inputs of patient satisfaction scores

In order to score highly across patient satisfaction measures, healthcare organizations design and implement various initiatives around patient-centered care. Whether it is a new policy, program, or technology, patient experience teams make a concerted effort to deliver a more humane and personalized care experience for their patients. However, the results of these efforts may be limited if there aren’t equivalent or adjacent efforts to improve the experience for the entire patient-family. A family-centered approach to patient experience can help level up organizations that have been stagnant in their scores, because of the inevitability of survey completion and the influence of others’ perceived experience.

One reason that focusing on the family-side of patient experience can help move the needle is derived from a simple observation: Many patient satisfaction surveys are actually completed by a family member of the patient. This inevitability immediately conveys the importance of treating the patient-family with the upmost respect, empathy, and attention.

In addition, even in the cases where the patient is filling out their own survey, it is widely understood by patient experience teams that the family’s experience finds its way into the survey results. This is because while the patient reports on their own recollection of their quality of care and experience, their perceptions of their own family members is also considered. For example, if a patient thought that the nursing staff was incredibly attentive, but their own family members complained about the communication that reached them, the patient will likely not report a maximum possible score.

It is clear that when your organization receives back a completed HCAHPS or Press Ganey survey, the results are a reflection not solely of the patient’s, but of the entire family’s experience. In realizing this, all patient experience teams should be cognizant of a family-centered approach to patient experience.