Report: Hospital satisfaction wanes due to ER experiences

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The latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) data showed that overall, customer satisfaction grew during the first quarter of 2010; however, a slump in patient satisfaction wtih hospital care hindered overall growth.

According to ACSI, despite the poor economy, customer satisfaction has stabilized and increased. During the first quarter, consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of the economy, increased by 3.6 percent.

ACSI reported that the overall customer satisfaction index was sustained at 75.9. For most industries: newspapers, cell phone, television services, network and cable TV news and computer software, the numbers rose; however, hospital satisfaction scores dropped by more than 5 percent.

According to the survey, “Customer satisfaction with healthcare was mixed—up for office visits, down for hospitals.” ACSI said this decline was the result of why the overall satisfaction index remained the same.

“ACSI data suggest that hospitals may be reasonably nice places for short visits, but less nice to stay in,” the commentary stated.

According to the report, while patient satisfaction for outpatient services was high, with a score of 80, inpatient service satisfaction dropped by 5 percent for a score of 74.

Additionally, the report noted that emergency room service satisfaction dropped by a whopping 12 percent for a score of 64.

“A combination of a greater emphasis on outpatient treatments and an increase in the number of after-hours facilities offering alternatives to ERs may help relieve some of the pressure on hospitals and reverse or at least slow the downturn in patient satisfaction,” said ACSI.

While most scores relating to healthcare dropped, patient satisfaction scores for ambulatory care increased by 1 percent to an index of 81.

Overall, for all industries, gainers outnumbered decliners: 61 percent improved, 27 percent fell, and 12 percent did not change, according to ACSI.

“The progress in customer satisfaction is also reflected in growing consumer demand—a necessary factor in order to have a sustainable economic recovery,” ACSI concluded.