Patient Satisfaction Planner

'Most wired' hospitals have higher patient satisfaction

Interactivity is most appreciated by patients

Patient satisfaction is higher at hospitals that embrace technology, according to the 10th Annual Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, which is published by the American Hospital Association. These hospitals scored significantly higher in patient satisfaction in a number of areas, including: admission process, room, nurses, tests and treatments, visitor and family interactions, and services.

"That doesn't surprise me at all," says Brent James, MD, vice president of medical research at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, which has been on the "Most Wired" list for 10 years.

There is "most definitely" a correlation between a hospital's use of technology and patient satisfaction, adds Penny Smith-Horton, patient and family satisfaction coordinator for Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, GA, which has been on the list for nine years.

"We use Press Ganey for patient satisfaction surveys, and we've found it was one of the areas that patients rate higher and made them more likely to recommend us," she continues. In the data Memorial reported for publication on the HospitalCompare web site, 71% of its patients said they would "definitely recommend" Memorial. "This is higher than both the state and national averages," says Horton. "We think there's a connection [with technology] to the high score; our patient satisfaction is steadily increasing on the inpatient side."

"I think it does improve satisfaction, as well as quality," notes David Erickson, MD, chief medical officer for Avera Health, a Sioux Falls, IA-based system that has been on the "Most Wired" list for 10 years. "We have been very pleased."

What the 'most wired' use

The "most wired" facilities use a variety of technology to provide services and interact with patients. All three of the aforementioned organizations, for example, say they have an EMR (electronic medical record) system.

"On our web site we have transparent data on quality measures from a clinical standpoint," notes Deanna Larson, RN, Avera's vice president of quality. "When patients come in they are given a brochure on how they can connect. And in one facility, we have a system that looks like a hotel TV connect monitor; if a patient has concerns, they can click and someone will come to see them."

"We have a Meditech EMR at various stages of implementation, depending on the facility," adds Erickson. "At one of our clinics, you can go online and schedule an appointment, which I think has been very successful."

In addition, Larson says, "some patients are in the initial stages of e-prescribing — and that helps a lot." She adds that all nurses have pagers and phones on their belts, which enable them to respond to patient calls more quickly. And, most of the facilities' ICUs are linked to outside intensivists 24/7 through an e-ICU system. "The patients actually hear that voice come into the room," she notes.