Healthcare Experience Blog

Your Hospital’s Toughest Customer May NOT be a Patient!

July 13, 2016

With all the attention given to the “patient experience” during the past five years, many hospital managers and staff have rightly turned their attention toward doing a better job of caring for the patient, in all senses of that word.

But a piece of research we recently conducted makes a pretty convincing case that the toughest consumer to satisfy may not be the patient, but the loved one who is there to assist and support the patient.  This loved one can be, and usually is, a close family member such as a spouse or adult child.  But it can also be a personal friend, especially if family members live far away.

Our research, conducted for Amplion Clinical Communications, was designed to determine how many patients and their loved ones have a positive vs. negative experience when it comes to nursing staff responsiveness and communication.

The results were startling to me.

Loved ones, overall, were much more critical of the nursing staff and their ability to respond to patient needs than were the patients themselves.  Loved ones were much more likely to express negative feelings about the patient stay, often using adjectives including “frustrated,” “anxious,” or “angry.”  And relative to patients, loved ones were less enthusiastic when it came to evaluating the overall experience and less likely to recommend the hospital.

Our study included just over 1,000 respondents, all reached via an online survey approach.  The sample was split 50/50 between patients and loved ones, so the results are statistically significant.

And do these results matter?  I’d answer with a resounding “yes” because loved ones are just as likely to tell others about the hospital as patients, perhaps even more likely to do so when the experience didn’t measure up to their expectations.  In effect, they’re raising the bar for “patient experience.”

To see a colorful infographic with highlights from this important study, click here.