Patient satisfaction represents an essential part of quality management and is an essential component of continuous quality improvement in anesthesiology. It is difficult to measure patient satisfaction, especially in pre- and peri-operative period and therefore patient satisfaction has not been utilized as a key factor to gain competitive advantage for anesthesia services.
Historically, the focus of anesthesia services has been restricted to the diagnosis and treatment of the disease and not on patient experience during the course of treatment. Medical outcomes in terms of morbidity and mortality are primarily considered as metrics for measuring quality. However, these outcomes fail to assess various issues of importance to the patient. Patient satisfaction involves physical, emotional, mental, social, and cultural factors that are determined by the quality of care provided and the patient’s expectations of the care. In order to get deeper insights about patient satisfaction, there arises a need of pre-anesthesia evaluation.
In general, pre-anesthesia evaluation is about gaining relevant information regarding the patient’s current and past medical history and in formulating anesthetic plan based on risk assessment. Pre-anesthesia testing clinics (PATs) have been set up in an attempt to streamline the preoperative experience by coordinating surgical, anesthesia, nursing, and laboratory care but despite these benefits to the hospital system, the patient experience and satisfaction with such clinics has not been adequately captured or understood. In fact, Somnia has recently established a PAT clinic at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx, NY to reduce the high incidence of cancelled surgeries, an issue that has plagued the facility for years. Patient satisfaction is a unique clinical endpoint and is an indicator of the quality of healthcare provided. Moreover, due to increased need for ambulatory surgery and short hospital stays, an efficient PAT ensures meeting or exceeding patient expectations.
In order to make patient satisfaction a key factor, patient involvement in decision-making by means of pre-anesthesia audit could emerge as an effective tool for quality assurance in health services. The audit could be conducted via online surveys, a cost-effective and time-sensitive method.
The healthcare landscape in the US has been dynamically changing in the wake of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“PPACA” or “Obamacare”), The growth of the individual health insurance market will be rapid, and beginning of 2014, every individual will be required to buy healthcare insurance. 30-40% of the insurance market could be “individual” instead of “group” policies. No longer will employers be making insurance decisions for 95% of those with insurance. Consumer-centric features could play a significant role in the selection of healthcare providers, insurance plans, and healthcare facilities.
Patient satisfaction, being an un-explored area can be capitalized by the healthcare service providers to stay ahead of competition and think beyond the present before stepping into consumer-centric world of business.
For more information on how anesthesia could partner with your facility to improve patient satisfaction, download the following informative materials from Somnia’s thought leadership library: