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Declining inpatient projections, future health status and patient satisfaction...a three-legged stool or a three-headed monster? Kerry Shannon provides insight into three critical issues pressuring the healthcare industry.
Series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Q

Why is patient satisfaction such a hot topic in healthcare today?

A

Healthcare providers have always wanted to help their patients and successful outcomes are a component of patient satisfaction. The intensity today stems from the fact that now, more than ever, reimbursement is tied to patient satisfaction.

Q

If the financial health of a provider system depends on patient satisfaction, what else goes into improving patient satisfaction?

A

Let’s take a step back to understand how satisfaction affects providers. The purpose of satisfying a patient is to create loyalty and keep them in the system. Because if they leave, so goes that revenue stream. In addition, if a provider improves the health status of a patient, or a population of patients, the cost of care goes down.

Patient satisfaction is really the table stakes of healthcare now.

Getting back to your question, nobody can universally define a “quality” experience. It’s not a one size fits all. The process should begin by understanding the expectations of your patients. And, the best approach to that is to segment them into groups.

For instance, we know that demographics, education level and health status all play a role in patient needs and expectations. When providers understand the needs and expectations of a segment they can offer a more customized care experience for their patients.

We’re beginning to see some providers use segmentation data to deliver a better experience, but it needs to be more pervasive.

Q

How does patient satisfaction tie back to declining inpatient projections and future health status… the three-headed monster?

A

They are interdependent. Ultimately, the relationship-based approach coupled with a customized experience will lead to better results and healthier, happier patients… which, in turn, leads to healthier, happier healthcare providers.

The future of healthcare is dependent on new reimbursement models as well as preventive care because preventive care will be the lowest cost option. The future is all about value—high quality and low cost.

For providers, the change in mindset must be to keep patients healthy and out of hospital beds.

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