Patient-centered care and patient engagement have become central components of the modern clinical encounter. The National Academy of Medicine defines patient-centered care as “care that is respectful of and responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values, and ensuring that patient values guide all clinical decisions.”(1) Technology, with its array of capabilities to measure data, manage information, and automate processes, plays an integral role in health care’s ability to adequately respond to patient preferences, needs, and values in the guidance of clinical decisions. Central to fulfilling this role is ensuring that care is delivered in a safe and effective manner. With literally hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths and millions of avoidable adverse events happening each year, the stakes are simply too high not to employ every tool at our disposal to improve patient safety.
Access to healthcare is more than just whether or not a patient has insurance.
Patients are waiting an average of 24 days to schedule an appointment with a doctor, according to a study of commonly used specialty physicians in 15 major U.S. cities.
The time to schedule an appointment has jumped 30% in 15 U.S. metropolitan areas from 18.5 days in 2014 amid a national doctor shortage fueled by aging baby boomers, population growth and millions of Americans with health insurance. The survey by MerrittHawkins, a unit of healthcare staffing firm AMN Healthcare, polled more than 1,400 physicians looking at average wait times among five specialties: family medicine, dermatology, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedic surgery and cardiology.
As hospital and health system reimbursements become more closely tied to clinical outcomes as well as patient satisfaction, patient experience surveys are becoming an increasingly valuable tool for healthcare organizations to guide efforts for improving the patient experience. The patient experience is directly associated with an organization’s brand reputation and ability to capitalize on market share. According to Mr. Greskoviak, there is quantifiable evidence that measuring quality outcomes and patient experience leads to quality improvement. “The top performers from the patient experience perspective have the lowest avoidable readmissions,” he said. “Shining the light on something makes it better.” In addition to low readmission rates, organizations that perform well on patient experience surveys have better adherence with post-discharge guidelines for patients and less utilization of unnecessary healthcare services, Dr. Straube added.
Patient experience surveys already play significant role in patient care across the country. Physicians can no longer choose not to participate in, but they can decide how best to engage with, incentive programs. Hospitals and clinics are using these scores to justify greater investment in improving experience for patients—a big step for an industry not known for customer service. That overall trend will likely be good for patients.
This literature survey revealed the medical field conducted research to identify factors influencing increased patient satisfaction scores and recognized wait times to see a provider as a significant influence on these scores. Only Xie and Youash (2011) studied the impact of advertising wait times. Their research only included the two hospitals in their community healthcare system (Xie & Youash, 2011). They concluded that establishing expectations did improve patient satisfaction scores as long as expectations of wait times were met (Xie & Youash, 2011). This conclusion was consistent with Thompson’s and Yarnold’s (1995) disconfirmation paradigm. Although research was limited, this survey of literature revealed a relationship between publishing (or advertising) emergency room wait times and patient satisfaction. Additional research should be done in larger studies to identify to what extent this relationship exists.