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Patient Experience: The Key to Boosting Hospital Revenue

Mike Rogozinski
Mike RogozinskiMay 29th, 20244 min read

Investing in patient experience is more than just a noble pursuit — it's a strategic business imperative. Over the past two decades, I've witnessed firsthand the evolution of patient satisfaction as a secondary concern to a pivotal factor in hospital financial performance. In this blog post, I’d like to share some thoughts about this shift inspired by my recent interview with a colleague. 

The Financial Link: Patient Satisfaction and Reimbursement

One of the most significant changes in healthcare has been the introduction of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) scores. These scores directly tie patient satisfaction to reimbursement, meaning that hospitals with higher patient satisfaction can receive higher percentages of compensation from payers. This link has made it clear that investing in patient experience is not just about making patients happy — it's about securing financial health.

On the flip side, poor patient satisfaction can result in lower HCAHPS scores and reduced reimbursement. This juxtaposition has made patient experience a top priority for hospital administrators aiming to boost their bottom line.

The Role of Online Reviews in Hospital Selection

In the age of digital consumerism, online reviews have become a critical factor in how patients choose their healthcare providers. Gone are the days when patients selected hospitals based solely on proximity or historic loyalty. Today, many people start their search for care online, comparing Google reviews and ratings before making a decision. In fact, studies show that nearly 75% of patients consider online reviews before deciding on their care provider, and 71% look at online reviews as their first step in finding care.

Hospitals with higher ratings naturally attract more patients. For instance, if two emergency rooms are within driving distance, but one has a 1.8-star rating and the other a 3.9-star rating, which would you choose?  This trend underscores the importance of developing a positive digital reputation. A strong reputation attracts more patients and increases hospital revenue through higher patient volumes.

The Emergency Department: The Front Door

The emergency department (ED) often serves as the front door to the entire health system. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, studies showed that 50-70% of all admissions originated in the emergency department, while 30% of ED patients are referred for follow-up care. This first impression sets the tone for the rest of the patient's care journey. A positive experience in the ED can lead to ongoing relationships with specialists and primary care physicians within the same health system, ensuring continuity of care and additional revenue for the hospital.

Conversely, a negative experience can lead to patient leakage, resulting in lost business and fragmented care. Therefore, it's crucial for hospitals to focus on providing excellent care and communication in the ED to secure appropriate follow-up care from patients.

Metrics and Communication Are Key Indicators

Emergency departments are inundated with metrics, many of which are time-based. Quick, safe, and high-quality care is paramount; and all of these hinge on good communication. Keeping patients informed about their wait times, the status of their tests, and the next steps in their care can significantly enhance their experience. Regular updates reassure patients and their loved ones that they haven't been forgotten, reducing anxiety and improving overall satisfaction.

Effective communication benefits patients and staff alike. Positive patient feedback can boost staff morale and reduce turnover rates, creating a healthier work environment. With widespread challenges of staff retention and burnout, this is an area where hospitals can see substantial benefits.

Humanizing Metrics for Better Outcomes

Most importantly, at the heart of all  these metrics are human beings — patients seeking care and healthcare professionals dedicated to providing it. Remembering this human aspect is essential. Metrics such as left-without-being-seen (LWBS) and RN turnover rates reflect real individuals whose experiences and careers are impacted by the quality of the care and work environments.

By investing in solutions that improve patient experience, hospitals can ensure better outcomes for patients and staff alike. Solutions like Vital's ERAdvisor, which provides real-time updates to patients via their mobile phone, can significantly enhance patient satisfaction and streamline communication. As seen with ERAdvisor, informed patients are more satisfied, and improved communication can lead to higher follow-up appointment rates and better overall patient care​​.

Learn More

Use our online calculator to discover how Vital’s suite of patient experience products can impact your hospital’s bottom line.

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