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Fancy facilities don’t increase patient satisfaction

The Journal of American Medicine recently published a study challenging the idea that hospitals can increase patient satisfaction by expanding or renovating their facilities. 

The hospital industry has moved towards designing buildings with patient-centered features, in an effort to improve engagement and satisfaction. Such facilities often include reduced noise, improved natural light, visitor friendly facilities, well-decorated rooms and hotel-like amenities. 

Zishan Siddiqui, M.D., of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who conducted the investigation, hypothesized that the new features would cause patients to rate their care higher because it has been suggested that patients cannot accurately distinguish between positive experiences in their environment from positive experiences with care.

Siddiqui analyzed the effects of doctors practicing in the new Sheikh Zayed Tower on patient scores. The new building cost a whopping $1.1 billion and is outfitted with state-of-the-art care facilities. Siddiqui found that while scores regarding cleanliness and noise improved in the Sheikh Zayed Tower, scores that related specifically to care — such as communication with doctors, nurses and staff — were unchanged. 

"Despite the widespread belief among healthcare leadership that facility renovation or expansion is a vital strategy for improving patient satisfaction, our study shows that this may not be a dominant factor," Siddiqui and his fellow authors wrote.

While it is undeniable that patients respond well to comfortable surroundings, renovations can not improve how patient's experience care. If a hospital wants to increase patient satisfaction, attempting to charm them with a high-quality environment is not the way to do so. Patients are able to discriminate between the standard of care they receive from doctors and nurses  and their interactions with their physical surroundings. 

Hospitals interested in improving patient outcomes should focus on bettering the care their clinicians and staff provide. Applications like Patient Approved can help healthcare leaders better understand where doctors are succeeding and where they are not by reading real-time patient feedback.