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The Institute of Health Systems

Patient Satisfaction Surveys

Quality in healthcare consists of two aspects. While technical quality primarily deals with accuracy of diagnosis and procedures and adherence to clinical protocols, service quality refers to the manner in which the healthcare services are delivered to patients. Often, patients are unable to accurately assess the technical quality of care, due to various factors. On the other hand, patients experience the service they receive. Family and friends who attend on a patient during the course of an illness episode are privy to their patients perceptions and are in a vantage position to observe activities in the health care facility. Patient satisfaction survey is about overall satisfaction of patients or their attendants about the health care encounter with a service institution such as a hospital. Such studies helps us to know the deep pulse of the patients and to get a qualitative picture of the hospital.

It is commonly acknowledged that patients’ reports of their health and quality of life, and their satisfaction with the quality of care and services, are as important as many clinical health measures. Measurement of patient satisfaction helps the management to know the perception, feelings, and needs of the patients and to get a qualitative picture of the hospital as well. It also helps the management to take appropriate allocative and managerial decisions for better utilization of public hospitals by people who needs them most and to improve the quality of their services.

Patient satisfaction surveys (PSS) is useful to understand and assess the quality of the hospital through patient’s perception. This perception depends on many factors like, severity of the patient’s illness, waiting, attending and caring the patient in need, concern for welfare, empathy and love, communication to patient and their relatives by the staff, comfort and cheerful atmosphere which is provided to the patients, cost of care if any incurred in their treatment, competency of the doctors and nurses, cooperation from staff and last but not the least the cleanliness of the hospital. Patients often don’t have the technical competence to judge the quality of medical care. Therefore, they rely on different criteria than do professionals in assessing quality. They perceive quality as a gestalt of experiences influenced by such issues as empathy, integrity, and appearance of competency (Carson et al., 1998).

Patient satisfaction studies and surveys in public health facilities reveal two kinds of information for health system assessment. Firstly, observations and studies about patient satisfaction gives an idea about the quality of service, areas of managerial neglect and adequacy of facilities with respect to demand. Secondly, regularity and contemporariness of credible patient satisfaction studies in government health facilities is an indication of good governance. Standards G2 and H4 in the National Health Mission (NHM) quality assurance guidelines provide for feedback to be taken by the hospital manager . At least 30 patients each form the outpatient and inpatient departments are to be surveyed every month, using a structured format. This feedback is to be analysed to identify low performing attributes and further action be planned accordingly.