The importance of patient experience, according to the US Department of Health

The differences between patient experience and patient satisfaction and the importance of linking these surveys to other quality measures. 

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the US Department of Health and Social Services, provides a definition of patient experience, as well as examples of other quality measures that are important in this context. 

The term “patient experience” refers to a very broad concept. This includes the interactions of patients with the health system, including care provided by all members of the system (nurses, doctors and hospital staff), but also the quality of the service, such as the ease with which an appointment can be made. In addition, ease of access to information and the quality of communication with healthcare providers are recorded. 

“Patient experience” differs from “patient satisfaction” in different ways. Although terms are often used interchangeably, satisfaction has more to do with patient expectations. On the other hand, a patient’s experience is an objective measure of what is happening and the frequency of events. As a result, the same patient experience would satisfy different patients to different degrees, depending on their personal expectations. 

With a view to improving patient experience, the US Department of Health has developed CAHPS surveys. CAHPS (Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) surveys provide standardized responses. It is never specifically asked if the patient was satisfied with their visit, but they are asked to give their feelings on some objective and measurable aspects that can be easily and accurately used by healthcare providers and consumers. 

The next step is to compare a patient’s experience, as a measure, with other quality measures. Some studies find no connection between a quality patient experience and good clinical processes. This correlation is not systematic, and the article highlights the importance of combining patient experience studies with other quality indicators. 


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