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Value of patient experience

Impact of patient experience scores on clinical quality

Making investments in patient experience can be a tough call. But, new Deloitte Center for Health Solutions research suggests executives may want to give this investment real consideration. Coupled with previous research that found hospitals with better patient-reported experience perform better financially, new findings gives ammunition to the business case: There is a positive correlation between patient experience and clinical quality measures.

Patient experience and clinical quality

With the market shift towards value-based and patient-centered models of care, improving patient experience is an increasingly common focus for hospitals. Good patient experience is an intrinsically valuable goal, and payers are increasingly emphasizing patient experience as part of care quality. Patient experience scores—reflecting factors as diverse as a hospital floor’s noise level throughout the night and how well nurses and doctors communicate with patients—have become key hospital performance measures.

In previous work, we found that higher patient experience scores are associated with higher hospital profitability, and that this association is strongest for aspects of patient experience most likely to be associated with better clinical care (in particular, nurse staffing engagement).

Since improving patient experience can address attributes of care that promote and increase quality, these results suggest that improvements in patient experience scores might be associated with increased clinical quality.

Although many consumers value both clinical quality and care experience when choosing a hospital, the link between patient experience and hospital quality has not been well studied. To gain greater insight into this topic, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions conducted regression analyses to examine the association between patient experience scores and a broad range of hospital clinical quality measures (both process of care [POC] measures as well as clinical outcomes). We controlled for numerous hospital and market characteristics that can also affect hospital performance, including hospital ownership, location, teaching status, payer, and patient case mix.

Our analyses point to two main findings:

  • Hospitals with higher patient-reported experience ratings have better POC quality scores
  • Hospitals with higher experience ratings have better scores for some, but not all, clinical outcomes

Hospital executives face multiple priorities and resource demands and may question the business value of analyzing and acting upon patient experience data. Along with our prior work on the association between patient experience and hospital profitability, these new findings help strengthen the business case for patient experience. Moreover, our findings point to particular aspects of care that hospital leaders might want to prioritize for investments in tools and mechanisms that engage consumers and help improve the patient experience.

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Investing in patient experience

With the renewed patient and payer emphasis on patient experience as a core element of care quality, our results suggest that hospitals should consider investing in the mechanisms, tools, and technology necessary to better engage patients and enhance patient experience—from making appointment scheduling easier to increasing shared decision-making, to offering convenient payment processes and effective care follow-up. In the Deloitte's 2016 Survey of US Health Care Consumers, two-out-of-three survey respondents noted that using health technology for purposes such as measuring fitness and receiving reminders and alerts has changed their health care behavior to a “moderate” or a “great” extent.

Although patient experience scores might not always or fully reflect hospital care quality, our findings suggest that investments in patient experience and quality can be mutually reinforcing strategies. Together, such investments can assist hospitals in becoming high-reliability organizations that consistently and reliably deliver on the promise of value-based and patient-centered care.

Download the full report to learn more about the correlation between patient experience and care quality.

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Hospitals with higher patient-reported experience ratings have better process of care quality scores.

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