Why patient satisfaction is not the same as engagement

Patients are now demanding a larger role in their healthcare, and are expecting a certain level of service from their providers. With the rapidly growing implementation of patient engagement tools, are patients more “satisfied” with the care they are receiving? How does patient satisfaction correlate with patient engagement?

The two concepts are so intertwined in their importance, a recent Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Leadership Survey revealed that Patient Engagement and Satisfaction are at the top of the majority of CIOs’ agendas.1

On the surface, patient satisfaction is often a description of how happy patients are with their global healthcare; this entails interactions both during physical visits and outside of the provider’s office. On a deeper level, their satisfaction is a judgement about whether expectations were ultimately met -- this is influenced by previous experiences, varying standards, diverse expectations, disposition, and how much they feel their provider (and staff) care for their well-being.

Although many hospitals have internally-developed tools to measure patient satisfaction, CMS developed the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey to provide a standardized method for measuring and reporting a patient’s satisfaction with their hospital experience.2

However, HCAHPS does not survey the patient’s overall well-being and joy. These factors should not be overlooked. A patient may report high satisfaction if they personally admired their physician or nurses, felt comfortable during their hospital stay, and felt well-informed about their care. However, this patient may not feel engaged and empowered to take responsibility for their health.

While an engaged patient may feel more satisfied with their care, a satisfied patient isn’t necessarily engaged. Thus, patient satisfaction is not the same as patient engagement and hospitals and providers must emphasize both in seeking to improve outcomes.

As we’ve discussed in earlier posts, there are many ways to engage patients though all are not equally effective. Whatever tool you decide to use, it should have a low barrier for patient entry, be intrinsically easy to use and well received by patients.

About StreaMD

StreaMD is the easiest way to increase patient engagement. Designed by doctors, it’s an automated text messaging service embraced by surgeons and patients alike. Messages are diagnosis- and treatment-specific, so patients receive the appropriate information at the most critical time points of their care, without additional work for the physician.