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The Fundamentals of Patient Satisfaction, PREMs and Patient Feedback

fundamentals partnering with patients patient experience Nov 16, 2023

In the dynamic landscape of healthcare, patient satisfaction stands as a critical metric that goes beyond the clinical aspects of treatment. It delves into the heart of the patient experience, encompassing factors that range from the effectiveness of medical interventions to the warmth of communication with healthcare providers. To gain a deeper understanding of these dynamics, more and more healthcare professionals are evolving their patient engagement beyond satisfaction indicators, to include tools like Patient-Reported Experience Measures (PREMs) and insights from patient feedback. Here, we will explore what they all mean and how they all work together to improve outcomes and experiences for patients.

Patient Satisfaction: A Holistic Measure

At its core, patient satisfaction reflects the degree of contentment a patient experiences throughout their healthcare journey. It extends beyond the successful execution of medical procedures, encompassing every touchpoint from the moment a patient enters a healthcare facility to the conclusion of their treatment. Effective communication, minimal wait times, cleanliness of facilities, and the overall ambiance contribute to the patient's overall satisfaction.

Understanding patient satisfaction is not just about meeting clinical benchmarks; it's about acknowledging the human side of healthcare. Patients are not merely recipients of medical care; they are individuals with emotions, concerns and expectations. Recognising and addressing these aspects fosters a patient-centred approach, where healthcare providers aim not only for positive medical outcomes but also for a positive and empathetic patient experience.

Patient satisfaction however, has its limitations - patients are usually surveyed by providers asking "how are we doing" with the goal being to improve the clinical services and experience, not necessarily the patient's outcomes.

PREMs: Capturing the Patient Perspective

To delve deeper into patient satisfaction, healthcare professionals are increasingly turning to Patient-Reported Experience Measures or PREMs. Unlike traditional clinical metrics and satisfaction surveys, PREMs are designed to directly capture the patient's perspective on their healthcare journey. These measures are often derived from questionnaires that patients complete across different stages of their healthcare journey, offering a unique and invaluable insight into their experiences and how it has impacted their outcomes through their eyes.

PREMs focus on aspects such as the clarity of communication, the involvement of patients in decision-making processes, as well as the overall quality of the patient experience. By incorporating these measures into healthcare assessments, providers can obtain a more nuanced understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement. For instance, a high clinical success rate may be tempered by low scores on patient communication, indicating a need for enhanced doctor-patient interactions and partnered decision-making.

The Power of Patient Feedback

In addition to structured surveys, patient feedback - whether through online reviews, focus groups informal conversations or suggestion boxes - plays a crucial role in shaping healthcare services. Patient feedback serves as a direct line of communication from those at the receiving end of care. Positive comments highlight areas of success, providing encouragement and recognition for healthcare providers. Conversely, negative feedback serves as a guide for improvement, pointing out aspects that may have been overlooked but significantly impact the patient experience.

Harnessing the power of patient feedback requires a commitment to active listening and a willingness to adapt. By analysing feedback trends, healthcare practices can identify systemic issues and implement targeted strategies for improvement. For example, if multiple patients express dissatisfaction with long waiting times, adjustments to scheduling processes or improved communication about delays can make a substantial difference.

Technological innovations have facilitated the development of real-time feedback systems, allowing patients to provide input at various points during their care journey. This dynamic approach not only captures more immediate and authentic responses but also enables healthcare providers to make real-time adjustments to enhance the patient experience.

Partnering with Patients: The New Standard

As healthcare continues to advance, so too do the methods for engaging patients and including their perspectives continuously in the care journey. In 2021, The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare released the National Safety and Quality Primary and Community Healthcare Standards, which for the first time included a standard focussed on Partnering with Patients, making it the new standard for engaging patients. Partnering with patients evolves beyond capturing broad-brush feedback from patients, to empowering patients to be actively involved in their own healthcare decisions and the design and delivery of the care services they interact with.

Under this new approach, patient satisfaction, PREMs and patient feedback collectively contribute to the tapestry of delivering quality healthcare in partnership with patients. By recognising and valuing the patient's perspective, healthcare providers can cultivate an environment that not only heals the body but also nurtures the overall wellbeing of the individual. As we embrace the evolving tools and methodologies for measuring and improving patient satisfaction, we move one step closer to a healthcare system that truly partners with its patients to deliver better experiences and outcomes for them.

Further Learning:

Ready to learn more about engaging with your patients and discover how your practice can evolve to be more PX-driven? Take our introductory Fundamentals of PX course online now.  This course includes a toolkit that features a sample patient experience survey you can start using in your practice.

Further Reading: 
(click to view each item)

Blog: The Fundamentals of Patient-Reported Measures.

Blog: Exploring the Six Stages of Patient Engagement in Healthcare.

Partnering with Consumers: A guide for consumers - Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care


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