3 Key findings in groundbreaking Deloitte study: Better patient experience increases hospital profits

25 July, 2016

In recent years, hospitals have been getting pressure from every direction to improve their patient experience. Public and private payers have been rewarding and penalizing hospitals for the quality (or lack thereof) of their patient experience, and up until now, studies have merely covered frustration with the patient experience from the patient’s point of view.

What’s been missing is an answer to this vital question: What’s the business case for hospitals to improve patient experience?

The business case has arrived and it’s groundbreaking! Enter a new Deloitte study, The Value of Patient Experience, that measures how patient experience scores translate to hospital financial outcomes. It’s never been clearer that improving patient experience needs to be a top priority for health providers, not just because patients and payers “said so,” but because there is also a huge payoff in hospital bottom lines if they do.

1. High patient experience scores translate to greater profitability across the board

“Hospitals with “excellent” HCAHPS patient ratings between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with “low” ratings.”

This correlation was true every single year and it wasn’t even close. The net margin annual comparisons show a consistent disparity for each level of patient experience ratings.

[ Figure 1: Annual Comparisons ]

2. Locality, hospital size, and other performance-driving characteristics don’t change this association

“Our analyses show that hospitals with higher patient experience ratings financially outperform lower-rated hospitals even after controlling for hospital and local area characteristics. We also identify some potential mechanisms through which the association between patient experience and hospital financial performance likely ensues.”

The conductors of the study did everything they could to find confounding factors in hospital characteristics, but none of them affected the correlation in any statistically significant way.

3. Hospitals with better patient experience typically prioritize revenue over costs

“Organizations that outperform their peers and the market in the long term tend to focus on ‘revenue before costs.’ In other words, they tend to drive profits through price and volume, rather than cost-cutting.”

If hospitals merely focus on keeping costs low, investing in improving the patient experience will seem incongruous with this study’s findings. This is short-sighted. The revenue produced by these investments ultimately surpass the costs of investing, as these findings make clear.

Highly engaged staff and online scheduling are top factors in patient experience

Staff engagement measures (such as quality of staff, staff communication and responsiveness, and appointment ease), among others, were the most important drivers of patient experience.”

The graph below shows that patients prize interpersonal treatment very nearly as much as their health treatment. It can be argued hospitals can’t offer one without the other.

[ Figure 2: Patient Experience Drivers ]

The appointment scheduling process is also vital to a great patient experience, taking the third and fourth spots on the list. The ability to book appointments online and having both parties respect the agreed upon appointment time should be basic prerequisites. Providers and doctors need to improve this process to provide a great patient experience.

“These analyses show that hospital executives should consider investing in the tools and technologies necessary to better engage patients and enhance patient experience.”

Having the right tools matters in the patient experience, especially when it comes to appointment scheduling. See how ImConnect can improve patient experience by innovating healthcare appointment searching and scheduling.

Interesting in ideas on how to improve Patient Experience?
Read: “Top 3 Ways to Improve Patient Experience: Solutions from the ImConnect Blog”