The satisfied patient is the one we’re killing

From a UC Davis study that analyzed a >50,000 person national Medical Expenditure Panel Survey:

The study found that patients who were most satisfied had greater chances of being admitted to the hospital and had about 9 percent higher total health-care costs as well as 9 percent higher prescription drug expenditures. Most strikingly, death rates also were higher: For every 100 people who died over an average period of nearly four years in the least satisfied group, about 126 people died in the most satisfied group.

Interestingly, more satisfied patients had better average physical and mental health status at baseline than less satisfied patients. The association between high patient satisfaction and an increased risk of dying was also stronger among healthier patients.

Despite the proliferation of Press Ganey, I don’t think anyone who has worked in healthcare would find these results surprising. Healthcare may be a business, but there’s still trouble in treating patients like regular customers.

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