For those of you who believe that patient satisfaction ratings are a detriment to health care and to our patients, a study published yesterday in the Archives of Internal Medicine titled “The Cost of Satisfaction” is a must-read.
Not only does “satisfaction [have] little or no correlation with Health Plan Employer Data and Information Set quality metrics,” but, according to the results of this study, hospitals that push to have the highest satisfaction scores may be harming or even killing their patients.
Noting the “tenuous link between patient satisfaction and health care quality and outcomes” the authors found that patients who had the highest satisfaction were more likely to be admitted to the hospital, spent more on health care, spent more on prescription drugs, and were 26% more likely to die than those who had the lowest satisfaction. When study authors excluded data for patients who rated their health as “poor” or who had a “substantial chronic disease burden,” they found that with “healthier” patients, the association between high patient satisfaction and increased patient deaths became even higher.
Next time you see a hospital brag about its high patient satisfaction scores, remember what this study shows: High satisfaction with a health care facility means that you’re more likely to be admitted, you’re more likely to pay more for your care, and you’re more likely to be discharged in a body bag.
Still think “satisfaction” and “quality” are synonymous?