Examining the Business Case for Patient Experience

A Systematic Review

Published in: Journal of Healthcare Management, Volume 66, Issue 3, pages 200–224 (May–June 2021). doi: 10.1097/JHM-D-20-00207

Posted on RAND.org on May 21, 2021

by Denise D. Quigley, Kerry Reynolds, Stephanie Dellva, Rebecca Anhang Price

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Hospitals, physician groups, and other healthcare providers are investing in improved patient care experiences. Prior reviews have concluded that better patient care experiences are associated with less healthcare utilization and better adherence to recommended prevention and treatment, clinical outcomes, and patient safety within hospitals. No comprehensive review has examined the business case for investing in patient experiences. This article reviews the literature on associations between patient experience—measured from the perspective of patients and families—and business outcomes, including patient allegiance and retention, complaints, lawsuits, provider job satisfaction, and profitability. We searched U.S. English-language peer-reviewed articles from January 1990 to July 2019. We followed the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses guidelines and undertook a full-text review of 564 articles, yielding the inclusion of 40 articles. Our review found that patients with positive care experiences are more likely to return to the same hospital and ambulatory settings for future healthcare needs, retain their health plan, and voice fewer complaints. Associations between patient experiences and profitability or provider job satisfaction were limited/mixed. This suggests that providers can pursue better patient care experiences for the intrinsic value to patients, while also recognizing it is good for intermediate business outcomes: specifically increased recommendations, better patient retention, and fewer complaints. Nursing and physician care, broadly defined, are the only specific aspects of patient experience consistently associated with retention, with evidence pointing to communication and trust as parts of care linked to the intent to return. These aspects of patient experience are also the largest contributors to the overall ratings of a provider or facility.

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