Patient Experience vs. Patient Satisfaction – Are They The Same Thing?

Patient Experience (aka Patient Care); Patient Satisfaction – these are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, these are very different things and it is crucial to understand the context behind both and then use them to your and your patient’s advantage.

Patient Experience is more than just the clinical encounter, itself; it speaks to the patient’s perception of care. Similarly, patient satisfaction goes beyond the loyalty of your patient to you and/or your facility; it is related to your patient’s expectation of care.  It is important to consider both aspects as the number of patient-centered care initiatives have increased dramatically.

Let’s dive a little deeper into the subject:

Patient Experience

Physical Therapist Working with Leg. Senior Woman

Unfortunately, you will not find a standardized definition of patient experience anywhere. The term broadly refers to all kinds of interactions patients have with the healthcare system. It can cover the passive perception of the brand, care, and communication provided by the staff, wait times, scheduling capabilities, and things like quality of food/parking, etc. 

Basically, the patient experience is a sum of all the minor and major interactions of the patient with a healthcare system.

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), “patient experience includes several aspects of healthcare delivery that patients value highly when they seek and receive care, such as getting timely appointments, easy access to information, and good communication with healthcare providers.”

Patient care is a measurable concept. The complexity lies in the subjective nature of receiving care. As per an article published in Gallup Business Journal, the ideal patient experience can be created by meeting the following emotional needs; confidence, pride, integrity, and passion.

Patient Satisfaction

Doctor and patient shaking hands while nurse writing reports

Let’s just say that the patient’s satisfaction links the expectations of the patients with the actual experience. The expectations of patients are formulated based on past experiences, social cues, narratives, and other factors. It is important to keep a tab on patient satisfaction due to ever-increasing consumerism in the healthcare industry.

Patients today are very aware of the costs associated with healthcare and they wish to be treated like high-paying customers. Providers can actually increase loyalty and maximize the lifetime value of patients by being aware of their patient’s expectations.

Final Thoughts

Medical star heroes and hospital worker hero as physicians joining hands forming a winning shape with a medicine group celebrating the group effort in fighting disease together metaphorin a 3D illustration style.

Patient satisfaction and patient experience are used interchangeably everywhere. However, these two are completely different in terms of their meanings and implications for care quality.

Patient experience can be measured by communicating with patients and inquiring about whether their needs are met or not during the care encounter. On the other hand, patient satisfaction is focused on the process of having their care needs met, and if that process met their expectations. It is crucial to understand this difference, as their meanings will have major implications.

In order to gain a greater understanding of your patient’s viewpoint, it is advised to track both areas separately and combine the insights to see results. Once you develop this understanding, your health care system can open up to new avenues of business, offer improved care quality, and will be able to retain patients for life.

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