Author(s): Scott A, Smith RD
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Abstract Patient satisfaction and customer focus are increasingly important objectives set for health services. The patient satisfaction survey is becoming the main method of assessing this aspect of health care. In competitive environments, those institutions that show that they respond to consumers' needs are in a better position to attract funding. The use of patient satisfaction surveys in quality assurance-type activities is also increasing. In these contexts, however, the way in which patient satisfaction surveys should be interpreted and used to maximise the satisfaction of patients has received little critical attention. Problems in interpreting the results of satisfaction surveys arise from the weak conceptual foundation of patient satisfaction, which has been well documented in the literature. The objective of this paper is to show that using current formulations of patient satisfaction surveys in quality assurance-type activities and competitive environments may not lead to the maximisation of patients' satisfaction with health services. If the satisfaction of patients is to be maximised then it is necessary to extend the current conceptual basis of patient satisfaction to recognise explicitly the decision-making contexts in which the results will be used. This paper identifies the manner by which this extension should occur by considering some of the problems and pitfalls of interpreting and using the results of surveys to maximise patients' satisfaction.
This article was published in Int J Qual Health Care
and referenced in Family Medicine & Medical Science Research