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PatientBond Blog:

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HCAHPS Doesn't Tell the Full Story of Patient Satisfaction


Brent Walker | Posted on August 18, 2014

driving patient activation with psychographic segmentationOnly thirty-two questions. While brevity and efficiency are necessary to maximize patient participation, hospitals are being rated — and penalized — based on the relatively superficial analysis of HCAHPS patient satisfaction surveys. 

Though meant to provide an overview of each patient’s experience — communication with physicians and nurses, thoroughness of medicine and discharge instructions, hospital staff responsiveness, pain management, transition of care and the hospital environment — HCAHPS ratings are not infallible. 

Counseling diabetic patients to lose weight or suggesting alternative pain management to a patient a doctor suspects has a narcotic addiction, for example, may not fulfill patient expectations. And despite being sound medical advice, such interactions can lead to low satisfaction scores. 

In order to gain meaningful insights for improving patient outcomes and efficiency, hospitals need to develop a more complete picture of patient satisfaction.

3 Reasons Hospitals Need More than HCAHPS

Accurately measuring patient satisfaction will be even more critical in the coming years as the healthcare industry continues its transformation towards lower cost, high quality care in a consumer-centric environment.  H&HN Magazine recently highlighted three key drivers that necessitate deeper insights into patient satisfaction. 

  • The rise of digital health and social media. While the aging Baby Boomer population receives attention because of potential demands on the healthcare system, hospitals must also address the needs of the millennials and Gen X. H&HN dubs these younger healthcare consumers “digiholics.” Developing a social media strategy, along with interactive digital tools, is imperative for hospitals that want to attract these younger consumers and capture critical data on patient perceptions of hospital performance

    … not to mention that Boomers’ use of digital and social platforms is also growing quickly. 

  • The new B2C focus of insurers. In years past, insurers directed their energies on marketing to employers. Today, healthcare consumerism is changing the game, creating customers who will demand transparency and purchase based on value. Insurers need to gather meaningful data in order to create plans and marketing that will attract consumers shopping on exchanges and keep current members engaged. 

  • The use of analytics to link experiences with outcomes and cost. Big data is a big trend that allows for deeper analysis of influencers on patient satisfaction. As H&HN notes, “…consumers will know what the specific treatment options are that correlate to optimal outcomes, and their experience will become more about diagnostic accuracy and treatment optimization than access to parking, tolerable food choices, and physicians and nurses who answer questions.” What should not be lost is that “little data” such as consumer insights and psychographic segmentation can augment big data and provide context necessary for effective consumer engagement.

Eliminating the gap between patient and physician perceptions is also critical. 

Health Affairs notes that in one study of 1,000 spine surgery patients, surgeons reported less than a 3 percent rate of complications while patients reported more than 9 times that rate. Doctors suggest that patients are not objective enough to evaluate what constitutes a complication, but when a patient’s recovery does not proceed as hoped, it is that subjective experience which colors the survey results. In a consumer-centric environment, perception is reality.

Better measurement of patient satisfaction could help close that gap. 

Improving Patient Outcomes with Deeper Consumer Insights

Our healthcare system is in transition and inevitably, consumers will experience frustrations, as evidenced by some of the recent outcry from newly insured patients struggling to find providers in narrow networks. 

Hospitals and other health care providers must respond proactively to manage these patients in order to turn around already negative impressions of their healthcare experiences. 

Consumer segmentation models can help hospitals, insurers, retailers and others in the healthcare industry adapt to the varying needs of patients. Psychographic segmentation, in particular, offers deep insights into consumer attitudes about health and wellness.  Important to realize is that different psychographic segments define healthcare quality and prioritize services differently — another reason why a “one size fits all” survey may not be sufficient in diagnosing true patient satisfaction.

Segmenting consumers by specific motivations, beliefs or lifestyles allows care providers to identify the appropriate channels and messaging needed for engaging patients. This kind of targeted communication helps to improve both patient outcomes and satisfaction. 

Market research conducted by c2b solutions studies health and wellness attitudes, satisfaction drivers, utilization trends and more, giving healthcare organizations more detailed patient stories around which they can build more positive patient experiences. 

For more information, contact c2b solutions today.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change

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Topics: transparency in healthcare, C2B Archive

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