The Relationship Between Employee Satisfaction and Hospital Patient Experiences

As we celebrate Health Care HR Week, we thought we would highlight a paper that emphasizes the importance of employee satisfaction in health care, “Forum for People Performance Management and Measurement”.  The health care industry is unquestionably complex, with many moving parts including recent legislation, new research, constantly changing technology and equipment, new treatments and of course the wide variety of people who come into contact with each patient.  Some believe that the new business model (prevention versus treatment) will be the key to improving quality and reining in costs. Others look to technology to increase efficiency and reduce errors.  But at the end of the day, the most significant impact on the health care industry will be a result of the PEOPLE who work in it.

In this paper, the authors seek to discover the link between employee satisfaction and hospital patient experiences.  They reviewed current literature (40 studies), collected data and interviewed employees, and conducted an empirical analysis of employee and patient satisfaction data in a New York hospital.  The elaborate interrelationship between the various systems, structures and cultural elements of hospitals is challenging to unwind, but there are compelling findings that affirm the importance of this relationship between employee satisfaction and the patient experience.

In the end, the bottom line is pretty simple:

Engaged/satisfied employees result in higher patient satisfaction.  Today, this fact actually has significant financial implications, as Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates are impacted by HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems).

The overall findings in the literature review revealed the following relationships with employees, patients and the financial performance of the organization:

In the actual research study at the New York hospital, a statistical analysis of employee and patient satisfaction was conducted in select departments (all medical units) within the hospital.  The overall finding was hospital departments that have higher levels of employee satisfaction provide better patient experiences (resulting in an increased likelihood that they would recommend the hospital to others and an increase in their ratings of the quality of care they received).

For those of us in the workforce management side of the health care industry, this is certainly not earth-shattering news.  In fact we at API Healthcare were lucky enough to have Paul Spiegelman, author of Patients Come Second, speak at our annual user conference last year.  The concept of happy employees = happy patients is tough to argue against.

Those organizations who recognize this will find themselves with a competitive advantage as the health care industry continues to change and evolve over the next few years.  Some believe that technology is the answer to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve the quality of care within the U.S. health care system.  While technology provides the framework for creating an organization that will thrive, it is just one part of a total strategy. One participant in the study made the following comment:

“Computers have eroded the patient’s feeling of being cared for. Employees do much of their work facing the computer monitor, not speaking directly to the patient.”

Acknowledging the personal nature of care delivery will result in happier employees, patients and financial stakeholders.


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1 comment

  1. Carolina

    Great post and it is great that they think about patient experiences. I alone am enjoying when I go to a nice hospital, with some cool paintings, where doctors are behaving like parents not like business owners. Where the atmosphere is warm, just like home – I think it depends a lot of the education of the personnel as well. Thank you for sharing this news!

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