Hospital Patient Experience vs. Satisfaction

2 min read
Apr 10, 2024 8:44:30 AM

The terms "patient experience" and "patient satisfaction" are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.

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To assess patient experience, one must find out from patients whether something that should happen in a healthcare setting (such as clear communication with a provider) actually happened or how often it happened.

Satisfaction, on the other hand, is about whether a patient’s expectations about a health encounter were met. Two people who receive the exact same care, but who have different expectations for how that care is supposed to be delivered, can give different satisfaction ratings because of their different expectations. 

Satisfaction More Strongly Correlated to Key Strategic Outcomes 

Because patient satisfaction takes into account both patient experience and patient expectations, measuring satisfaction has all of the benefits of the experience metric plus a close correlation to key strategic outcomes such as loyalty, advocacy and pricing power. 

Satisfaction Informs Prioritization

Understanding patient expectations means uncovering which parts of the experience patients truly value more than others. That understanding enables providers to focus on and invest in key moments of truth that matter the most from the patient’s perspective. 

Satisfaction is Dynamic

Satisfaction is dynamic because patient expectations can change over timeFor example, during the pandemic, consumers were more gracious and patient and generally had lower expectations for service. Those expectations have now rebounded at a pace faster than many service providers expected.  

The Power of Benchmarking Satisfaction

In a highly competitive environment, hospitals must evolve beyond quality measures and become truly patient-centric by focusing on patient satisfaction. 

The J.D. Power Hospital Patient Satisfaction Program (HPSP) benchmark was conducted nationally in the fourth quarter of 2023, with thousands of patients interviewed to evaluate an overnight stay at a hospital in the previous six months. The survey touched on all aspects of the patient journey and included diagnostic questions to uncover key moments of truth. 

The resulting benchmark identified seven satisfaction drivers and quantified the relative importance weights.  In addition, the benchmark established 15+ key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide insight into pivotal moments of truth in a way that is actionable from an operations perspective. 


How is your hospital doing relative to patient expectations?  How are you doing relative to your peers and competitors?  While internal measurements are important, considering the “outside in” perspective will tell you if the rest of the world is passing your organization by when you thought you were doing well. 

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