The Truth about Patient Satisfaction Scores

Greg Link

Guest post by Greg Link, co-author with Stephen M. R. Covey of the national bestseller Smart Trust: The Defining Skill that Transforms Managers into Leaders. 

As the name implies, patient satisfaction scores are nothing more than a measure of a patient’s healthcare experience. Like customers in any other industry, healthcare patients expect good, old-fashioned, caring customer service and to have their expectations met. Unfortunately, due largely to the extreme complexity of the healthcare experience, patients have historically lowered their expectations and defined extraordinary service as merely having their health issue ultimately resolved. That’s like ignoring all of the service aspects of a hotel stay as long as you slept through the night.

Now, in response to the Affordable Care Act, which links hospitals’ government reimbursement payments to how well they score in the Hospital Consumer Assessment (HCAHPS) on patient care, hospitals across the country are scrambling to improve their scores. 

Stephen M.R. Covey

“The reality is, hospitals can’t talk themselves out of a problem they behaved themselves into,” Stephen M. R. Covey said, author of The Speed of Trust and Smart Trust

Covey suggests that the patient experience is not a campaign or a department; it is a function of a high-trust culture generated by good, old-fashioned, common-sense behaviors demonstrated by all stakeholders.  These behaviors are common to trusted people and organizations throughout history – behaviors like listening first, clarifying expectations, talking straight, creating transparency, extending trust, and demonstrating respect. One compelling example of a remarkable extension of trust is the Cleveland Clinic, where they are so transparent they give patients online access to their own charts and medical records, including doctors’ notes.

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