Healthcare has now become a competitive market. It is becoming an economic battleground where healthcare providers compete with one another through rendered services for control of the market (or support of the leading managed care system) and where consumers are asserting more control over dollars and are willing to pay-out-of-pocket for quality. With these changes, even old facets of healthcare provision are changing focus and orientation. One such change of focus is the increased necessity for consumer satisfaction.
In the field of healthcare, consumer satisfaction is measured through a number of criteria that must be continuously improved in order to satisfy consumer demands. Such areas include care continuity, compliance, hospitalization length and many more. Improving Consumer Satisfaction Through Improved Continuity of Care, Patient Compliance and Reduced Length of Hospitalization Healthcare provision has grown increasingly complicated and competitive throughout the years.
It has encountered various evolutions in various fields from treatment modalities to economic functions and has undergone dramatic shifts in trends from curative to preventive, from individual- to community-oriented. To top this, not only has the practice evolved, with the onset of new technology and increasing access to information systems, but so has the modern consumer. In this competitive, market-driven healthcare environment, consumers (patients and their families) expect better quality healthcare services and hospital systems.
With healthcare operating as a “business,” hospitals have grown concerned about maintaining an overall image and are now appealing towards a more “consumer-friendly” market – one that will sell their capabilities as healthcare providers. This is in part due to a market that has grown more aware of what services are available, what they do, and how providers perform in the delivery of these “wants. ” To address this issue, hospitals are now focusing on providing consumer satisfaction in every aspect of the healthcare system.
There are various areas in which hospitals can improve upon in order to boost their desirability in the market. A few of these are discussed as follows. An area that can be improved to increase consumer satisfaction is in the area of Continuity of Care. With the advent of advances in telecommunication and the increasing accessibility of the internet, hospitals, and other healthcare providers can use this new resource in improving services and increasing consumer satisfaction. An example of this case is a study done in Quebec where there is universal health insurance.
In this study, researchers assessed the effect of a standardized communication system between the Emergency Department (EDs) and individual Primary Care Physicians (PCPs) on the continuity of care. Using a standardized, secure, web-based system, PCPs received via e-mail daily detailed clinical information and access to test results of patients with recent ED visits during the Intervention period. A control period was then done where PCPs received the e-mails 21 days post-ED visits and only received the first page of the ED physician’s notes.
After a survey of the participating PCPs, results showed that PCPs felt they could better manage their patients (45% versus 25%) and that they are more likely to initiate follow-up actions (32% versus 19%) (Koenig, 2007, p. 40). This can increase consumer satisfaction in the sense that this allows for healthcare providers to anticipate the needs of their patients and hence can be better prepared in delivering the required services – resulting in increased quality and efficiency and decreased delays.