Patient satisfaction differs between inpatient, outpatient settings, Leapfrog finds

By | July 9, 2021

Dive Brief:

  • A new survey by The Leapfrog Group of patients at hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers suggests that while they are satisfied on several levels, safety issues remain a significant concern, especially when children are being treated.
  • Leapfrog’s Patient Experience Report — which analyzes responses to three different Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems surveys that were conducted in 2019 — also raises concerns that patients may not be aware of the need for a continuum of care after they are discharged from the hospital.
  • Outpatient care, particularly ambulatory surgical centers — which are focused on relatively quick procedures and sending patients home the same day — received higher satisfaction scores than hospitals.

Dive Insight:

Health systems may object to the reports methodology, as hospital groups have asked for overhauls to the CAHPS surveys, noting that the patient response rate has been dropping in recent years.

But the findings show that patients have mixed feelings about the care they receive at hospitals versus outpatient settings. The survey found they give high marks to the discharge information they receive from hospitals (86.9% of patients gave their most positive response) and their communications with doctors (80.2%) and nurses (79.7%).

However, they received lower marks in other categories, including care transition plans (52.1%); the quietness of the hospital (59.6%); and the responsiveness of hospital staff (67.1%).

For pediatric hospital patients, communications about the medicines they’re receiving brought high marks (80.6%), and how well nurses communicate with children (78%). But only 62% of those surveyed gave top marks for the prevention of mistakes and helping parents of patients to report their concerns.

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Outpatient care received much higher marks. More than 97% of patients gave the top scores to the staffs of ASCs, while hospital outpatient departments received the top ratings from 96.4% of patients. Nearly 88% of patients said they would recommend an ASC to family or friends, while 82.1% would recommend hospital outpatient departments.

Many health systems have invested more in outpatient care themselves. Tenet, in particular, has been snapping up ASCs recently.

“Patient experience surveys are the voice of the American patient, and that voice should be the first authority we listen to,” Leapfrog CEO Leah Binder said in a statement. “We are worried about signs of patient safety problems, particularly in pediatric units, where parents appear hesitant to raise concerns about mistakes. We also see issues with communication that can lead to patient harm.”

The Leapfrog Group did not issue any recommendations to accompany its survey.

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