Understanding the Difference Between Patient Satisfaction vs. Patient Experience

Understanding the Difference Between Patient Satisfaction vs. Patient Experience

As a medical provider, you know the importance of having happy patients. And when it comes to measuring their happiness, there are two important metrics to evaluate: patient satisfaction vs. patient experience.

What exactly do these terms mean? And how are they different? That’s what we’ll be explaining in this blog post.

What Is Patient Satisfaction?

Patient satisfaction is a quantitative metric that measures the patient’s level of happiness at any given point in time. It asks them to rank their experience from one to five stars, with five being “very satisfied.”

During your initial visit with a new patient, you’ll typically document this rating on a form called an HCAHPS survey (Healthcare Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems). This data can then be compared against other providers who see similar patients. This allows for comparison between individual physicians as well as across larger groups, such as hospitals or medical practices. In addition to grading overall satisfaction levels, these surveys also ask specific questions about how long it takes before they were seen by someone, how often they were able to get in touch with someone about their questions, and how comfortable they felt discussing sensitive topics.

What Is Patient Experience?

Patient experience is a qualitative metric that looks at the patient’s actual experiences through a series of surveys, interviews, focus groups, etc. This can be done on an individual level by asking for feedback from every patient who comes into your practice or it could be done via social media sites like Yelp where patients leave reviews without being directly solicited by anyone.

How Patient Satisfaction and Patient Experience Differ

What’s the difference between patient experience vs. patient satisfaction? While satisfaction measures what people think of providers based on preconceived notions (often formed from marketing materials) and past experiences, experience goes beyond opinions to uncover the “why” behind them. For example: A new family doctor might have a perfect HCAHPS rating, but if they can’t listen to patients’ concerns and rush them in and out of the office without spending any time on treatment options or referrals, then their overall happiness won’t last long.

Another example: A dermatologist might have a lower patient satisfaction rate because new patients don’t find it easy to book an appointment online so they call repeatedly only to be told there’s no availability for weeks. But if those same people had access via video chat, this would address their underlying concern (which is convenience) while increasing both satisfaction and experience at the same time.

As you can see from these examples above, understanding how your metrics differ will help guide better marketing efforts as well as improve patient experience. For more assistance with how to measure patient satisfaction in healthcare, speak with Sequence Health. We offer patient conversion solutions that will work for you.