An article published on The Atlantic today (link) takes a stern and dim view of hospitals’ pursuit of patient satisfaction. While it positions patient satisfaction in opposition to the goal of patient health, that is ultimately a step too far.
I try to be more optimistic about the underlying. As an industry, we in healthcare are experimenting with ways to connect with patients–as stakeholders, as consumers, as individuals with accountability for their own health. In other words, we are learning where to locate accountability so that we can grow it.
While the pendulum can swing too far towards consumerism in individual instances, it can also be seen as a process where we learn more about how to engage patients, in a physical environment of care, like a hospital, or a digital environment that sustains engagement beyond traditional points of care. We won’t get it right in a single effort, and many cases will emerge where “satisfaction” has been misinterpreted.