Don't Cut Here! Lower Inpatient Satisfaction Scores an Ominous Sign

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media , May 28, 2010

In such a broad survey as this, it's difficult to see the trees for the forest, as it were. In other words, some hospitals are assuredly making the important investments in patient satisfaction. But more than a few saw investments in patient satisfaction take a back seat to what were seen as more pressing priorities, like refinancing debt or otherwise cutting costs.

But you can't slash your way to success. Investments in patient satisfaction require more commitment than cash. In fact, relative to other investments hospitals have to make, such as high-tech imaging systems, new patient towers, and new operating suites, patient satisfaction improvement is instead based on clean rooms and hallways, better, hotter food, better service, and more eye contact, among other, seemingly simple fixes.

Those things improve with culture, and as the CEO, there's no more effective person to drive that culture. Are you rounding each day? Do you talk regularly with patients and their families to find out what's dissatisfying them? Do your top lieutenants do these things as well? Can you stop a worker in the hallway and get a good answer for how that person is helping improve patient experience?

If not, some reassessment of priorities may be in order. Your customers are demanding it, and your organization's long-term success depends on it.

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Philip Betbeze is senior leadership editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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