Patients who are satisfied with their care are less likely to return to the hospital within 30 days, a new study shows.
The study, published recently in BMJ Quality and Safety, found patients who reported high satisfaction with their overall care experience were 39% less likely to be readmitted than patients who were not as satisfied. The study also said patients who reported feeling like their doctors listened to them carefully were 32% less likely to be readmitted.
"The reason why those patients are not returning to the hospital is because they actually have better communication with their care team and because of that communication they have a better understanding of how to take care of themselves, and overall it is a much more fulfilling experience for them," said Dr. Jocelyn Carter, lead author of the study and an internal medicine physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.
To gauge patients' satisfaction with their care, Carter and her colleagues interviewed 846 patients at Mass General just before they were discharged from the hospital. The questionnaire asked patients a variety of questions including how well they communicated with their doctor and how likely they thought they were to be readmitted.
The study did find that patients who felt they were likely to be readmitted did indeed have higher readmission rates. Overall, about 23% of surveyed patients experienced an unplanned readmission.
Carter said her study was limited by the fact that it only looked at Mass General patients. The study did, however, look at a mixed population of patients. About 30% were privately insured, 45% were on Medicare and roughly 15% were insured by Medicaid. The remaining 10% were uninsured or self-pay.
She said more studies that look at the association between satisfaction and readmissions with a broader patient pool would be beneficial to providers.
"It is definitely something we need to look at—developing more studies in complex populations," she said. "It is possible that asking one or two additional questions near or at the time of discharge might help us to identify care gaps, and actually help tailor care plans so patients can be more successful when they leave."