Healthcare News & Insights

Do amenities really boost patient satisfaction scores?

Hospitals are trying many methods to boost their overall patient satisfaction scores, including making expensive upgrades to their facilities. Is this investment paying off for hospitals? 

GettyImages_183931159 Not as much as you might think.

After commissioning a new building for some of its departments, Johns Hopkins Hospital monitored its patient satisfaction scores, comparing their levels before the upgrades and after. The results were just published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, and they’re a bit surprising.

What matters most

Johns Hopkins spent $1.1 billion on the building, a tower with 355 beds, and a new children’s hospital, according to an article about the project from Kaiser Health News. An internist with the hospital, Dr. Zishan Siddiqui, wanted to see if Johns Hopkins’ investment would lead to higher patient satisfaction ratings.

As you might expect, patients’ satisfaction with the hospital’s amenities increased. They reported being happier with the facility itself and its accommodations. But this increase didn’t come with a boost in overall patient satisfaction scores – or with higher satisfaction when it comes to the care they received from doctors and nurses.

Different results

Previous research has actually found that patients tend to express lower satisfaction overall when they’ve received treatment at facilities with older, less fancy accommodations. So some hospitals might think low patient satisfaction scores are mostly due to a lack of bells and whistles.

But Dr. Siddiqui also looked at a control group in his analysis. He compared scores from patients at the new tower with those from patients at an older Johns Hopkins building.

While views about cleanliness, pleasurable décor and a lack of noise soared on surveys submitted by the patients treated in the new tower, patients’ opinions of their actual care didn’t change significantly among the two groups.

So as nice as it is to invest in upgrades to your facility (even if it’s necessary to compete with neighboring hospitals or accommodate expansion), the biggest gains in patient satisfaction come from making the investment in your providers to help them deliver high-quality care to patients.

After all, as one doctor, Brad Flansbaum, wrote in a blog post for the Society of Hospital Medicine, the biggest takeaway from this study is that “what doctors do and say matters, and a first-class meal and green gardens cannot paper over … our evaluations.”

Making sure your doctors and nurses understand how to relate to patients, giving them information about their care with language they can understand, will work wonders here. And creating a culture in your hospital where this is the norm will likely cost much less than huge renovations would.

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