Getty Images/iStockphoto

Patient-Provider Communication Ranks High While Doc Face Time Lags

Doctors are good at answering patient questions, but the limited amount of in-person time with doctors mars the patient experience.

Patient-provider communication is proving highly effective and beneficial to the patient experience during hospital stays—but that’s only if a patient can actually see a doctor, according to the J.D. Power 2023 US Hospital Patient Satisfaction Study.

Overall, 90 percent of nearly 3,000 patients describing their most recent overnight hospital stay say their doctors answered all of their questions, albeit some answers left patients confused. This indicates that patient-provider communication is generally a source of patient satisfaction during a hospital stay.

But the survey, which was conducted for the first time since 2011 and after undergoing some updates, showed that doctor-patient communication isn’t always happening. Only about a third (36 percent) of respondents said they were able to speak with a doctor during their overnight hospital stay, compared to 43 percent of patients who said the same during the 2011 survey.

It's not just doctor-patient communication that can make or break the hospital experience, the survey showed. Nurses also showed to be critical to ensuring a good patient experience, which may be unsurprising considering the big role nurses have historically played in patient communication and experience.

Over three-quarters (83 percent) of respondents said their nurses always described their care plans for the day, and 80 percent said a nurse leader/manager checked in to assess how the hospital experience was going for the patient.

The report also outlined how the hospital admission and discharge process can affect the patient experience. Right now, hospitals are falling short in streamlining the admissions process. Around half of patients said it took more than two hours to get to their rooms after arriving at the hospital, which indicates a lengthy hospital admissions and patient intake process.

This is problematic, considering about a third of overall patient satisfaction depends on the admissions and discharge process.

To allow for a better admissions and discharge process, J.D. Power suggested focusing on providing written patient education and potential post-discharge symptoms to look out for and after-care instructions.

Finally, the report showed dissatisfaction with hospital facilities and services. This area may often be overlooked by individual clinicians, but it’s presenting as a clear indicator of patient satisfaction for facility leadership, the J.D. Power survey suggested.

A sizeable portion of patients (68 percent) said their own rooms and bathrooms were always kept clean, but noise level was problematic; only 45 percent said the area around their room was always quiet at night.

Meanwhile, patients said food and beverage were hospital pitfalls. Three-quarters of patients said they can order food and beverage and have it delivered to their rooms, but respondents indicated that there was limited variety and quality was lacking. Overall, food and beverage were the lowest-scoring factors on the J.D. Power patient satisfaction survey.

There were some surveyed process elements clinicians could control, and they overall are doing well, patient respondents indicated. Most (87 percent) patients said they were told in advance when they can expect certain procedures to be conducted and 85 percent said scheduled tests were performed on time.

Hospitals looking to improve patient satisfaction should see domains with lower scores as opportunities for improvement, Christopher Lis, the managing director of global intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a press release.

“Delivering a patient experience that meets or exceeds expectations means focusing on things that matter most to patients,” List explained. “Focusing on the details such as a smooth and well-informed admission and discharge process; providing timely access to doctors accompanied by clear explanations; and having high quality food are among the key drivers to patient satisfaction and future loyalty and advocacy.”

Next Steps

Dig Deeper on Patient satisfaction and experience

xtelligent Health IT and EHR