A new report from Press Ganey Associates suggests that, despite the ailing economy, hospital-reported patient satisfaction scores reached record levels in October 2008, AHA News Now reports. Based on an analysis of patient satisfaction surveys completed by nearly 3 million patients treated at 2,021 U.S. hospitals between January and December 2008, the report found that a six-year trend toward higher patient satisfaction in the inpatient setting continued last year, suggesting that facilities "have responded to payer and patient demands," according to the firm. In addition to unprecedented patient satisfaction levels in October, Press Ganey found that the likelihood that patients would recommend a facility to family and friends increased by 1.96 percent that month. Noting that "a continual challenge for large health care providers is to personalize the inpatient experience," the report found that hospitals with 50 or fewer beds recorded an overall patient satisfaction score of 87.8 on a 100-point scale, compared with a score of 83.7 for hospitals with 600 or more beds. Patients admitted through the emergency department scored their care slightly lower at 82.6, compared with 85.6 for those hospitalized via direct admission. Age also played a role in patient satisfaction, with patients age 80 and older and those between age 35 and age 49 reporting the lowest satisfaction scores. According to the report, providers' focus on patient satisfaction "has really changed" since March 2008 when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began publicly reporting Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey data. Press Ganey's vice president of hospital services says that the data is "promising" for facilities as the economy and financial outlooks improve, adding that hospitals that are using "quality improvement data and improvement initiatives to drive their publicly reported results" are those that are seeing the greatest results. She adds that health reform may bring more improvements to the patient experience, as hospitals will have "more evidence for synergies between patient satisfaction and the bottom line, especially with regard to reimbursement" (AHA News Now, 11/13/09; Press Ganey release, 11/13/09; Press Ganey report, 11/13/09).
(c) RWJF 2009