Service More Important than Hotel-Quality Hospital Facility

While hospitals have been upgrading their technology and attempting to make facilities feel more like hotels, it's still the service patients receive that most influences patient satisfaction.

Hospitals are really stepping up their game in a bid to satisfy patients. Recently-hospitalized patients have the same level of overall satisfaction as guests staying at luxury hotels, according to a study by J.D. Power and Associates.

While hospitals have been upgrading their technology, it’s the service patients receive that most influences patient satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 National Patient Experience Study.

The study measures patient satisfaction across all areas of the inpatient and outpatient hospital experience, including: interactions with healthcare professionals; tests and procedures; admission and discharge; and facility environment. And right now overall patient satisfaction is high, averaging 825 points on a 1,000-point scale. Guest satisfaction at luxury hotels averages 822 points.

Outpatient settings have higher satisfaction (863), while emergency department visits are lower (788).

"Hospitals may attempt to attract patients and staff by adding equipment or sprucing up their facilities," Rick Millard, senior director of the health care practice at J.D. Power and Associates, said in a statement. "From the perspective of patients, it might be more worthwhile to invest in finding and keeping staff with superior interpersonal skills."

While hospitals are sprucing up their facilities, adding high-end amenities and trying to give the feeling of a hotel, the truth is facility characteristics represents only 19% of patients’ overall satisfaction. In an actual hotel, the facilities account for 48%.

Instead, doctors and nurses account for 34% of overall experience for inpatients and 43% for patients in emergency settings. For outpatients health care professionals represent 50% of the overall experience. Similarly, the most common problem patients have is staff service and staff attitude. When they have issue with the staff, they rate their overall experience much lower than patients who didn’t experience problems.

"Having an appealing hospital facility matters, but an experienced and socially skilled staff has a greater impact on patient satisfaction," Millard said in a statement. "Personal interactions with the staff have a profound impact in both inpatient and outpatient settings."