Patient Satisfaction Factors
High level of patient satisfaction indicates at an excellent quality of healthcare delivery. Therefore, every formal and informal medical setting needs to strive to achieve it. It is possible to say that the attempts to increase patient satisfaction should begin with the identification of internal organizational factors that interfere with medical staff ability to meet patient needs and consider their preferences in treatment. As stated by Li et al. (2016), the identification of essential organizational factors affecting patient experiences is an initial stage in the development of adequate individualized interventions aligned with recognized patient needs and efficient hospital resources management (p. 2).
The growing body of research reveals that the major risk factors preventing the improvement of customer satisfaction and influencing deterioration of healthcare quality perceptions are patient-nurse communication, patient-doctor communication (Azizam & Shamsuddin, 2015, p. 56; Li et al., 2016, p. 7); hospital staff responsiveness, personnel’s ability to convey health and medicine information, as well as the overall hospital environment including the aspects of quietness and cleanness (Li et al., 2016, p. 9).
Azizam and Shamsuddin (2015) regard care provider-patient communication as a major component of patient-centered holistic treatment (p. 56). The patterns of professional communication that can be characterized as sensitive, sincere, showing consideration, and emotionally valuable are efficient in the fulfillment of patient psychological needs and have greater potential for the improvement of the overall healthcare quality perceptions. The positive effects of organizational communication style enhancement on patient satisfaction is observed in many scholarly articles. However, the researchers identify other potential benefits of improved care provider-patient communication. For example, the study conducted by Boissy et al. (2016) helped to find out that intervention of physicians’ communication manners and avoidance of depersonalization lead to the increase in doctors’ empathy and higher self-efficacy perceptions that foster the burnouts decrease (p. 755).
Hospital staff sensitivity towards patients’ individualities, social or cultural identities, and their needs is another important element of holistic medical interventions. As mentioned by Ziegler (2015), a holistic environment always provides the opportunity to consider intellectual, physiological, and spiritual aspects of individual performance and facilitates the fulfillment of multicultural interests of people (p. 41). Based on this, a comprehensive, holistic approach to patient treatment should be based on the principles of cultural and social sensitivity. The researchers observe that the implementation of a patient-centered culturally sensitive care delivery model that implies care providers’ culturally sensitive performance and application of multicultural competence in professional activities is interrelated with the increase in patient satisfaction due to the development of trust and perception of providers’ impartiality (Tucker, Moradi, Wall, & Nghiem, 2014, p. 282). In this way, it is possible to assume that a culturally sensitive care delivery model is inherently linked to the improved patient-provider communication and the ability of hospital staff to respond efficiently to diverse patients’ demands. Tucker et al. (2014) claim that culturally sensitive care delivery is associated with minority patients’ adherence to their doctors’ recommendations (p. 282). Hence, multicultural competence is correlated with greater positive treatment outcomes. Moreover, patient-centered holistic and culturally sensitive medicine provides the fertile ground for the creation of inclusive hospital environment that excludes impartiality and unequal patient treatment.
Holistic Medicine: Theoretical and Philosophical Background
Nowadays, the traditional reductionist physiology-based approach to the treatment of multiple health conditions can be regarded as insufficient because it addresses merely a single biological aspect of human life. On the contrary, holistic medicine approach, developed in opposition to a narrowed down to physiologic processes perspective on health, aims to address as many dimensions of patients’ life as possible.
Over a significant period of time, a holistic approach to health intervention was applied in the field of psychology. Ziegler (2015) claims that the individualized cognitive behavioral intervention, which involves such activities as art therapy, group therapy, gardening, meditation, skill training, etc., developed for young patients with severe social-emotional and psychological impairments and developmental problems proved to be more effective and cost-efficient in those cases when no other method seemed to work (p. 4). Based on the mentioned list of suggested activities that can be performed in holistic treatment, it is possible to say that a potentially successful intervention should target cognitive, psycho-emotional, spiritual, and social components of a patient’s identity.
According to Bullington and Fagerberg (2013), the term of holistic care delivery refers to the requirement or suggestion to regard a patient as “a whole person” which implies the necessity to consider biological, psychological, and social needs of a person (p. 493). In the research literature, the concept of holistic medicine is frequently opposed to reductionist, task-oriented and fragmented, and statistical approaches. In order to consolidate the positive perspective on holistic care, the researchers suggest to root it in the philosophical background and consider that the concept of a “lived body,” based on the perception of the mind-and-body unity which is responsible for the subjective experiencing of the world, can explain the idea of a “whole person” and endow it with a precise and accurate significance (Bullington & Fagerberg, 2013, p. 493). Since the perspective on a human being in the body-mind-world system implies the presence of subjective experiences, individual sensations provoked by the interaction of these different aspects of being, the requirement for the application of individualized person-centered treatment approach becomes rationalized and it thus can be regarded as the only adequate method of health intervention and patient care.
It is possible to say that ambulatory treatment activities constitute the larger part of medical care practices in almost every hospital across the world. Outpatient care is associated with a short-term treatment which is primarily comprised of assessment, counseling, conveying information on health risks and medication, as well as recommending on behavioral and pharmacologic interventions. Since in the majority of cases, doctors and nurses encounter ambulatory patients for a relatively short and limited period of time, the ability to provoke a positive impression on a patient may have favorable impacts on the course of individual independent treatment and patient intention to adhere to clinical personnel’s recommendations. Hence, communication and the level of hospital staff competence in resolving a variety of professional issues are of greater importance in outpatient care.
It is observed that patients tend to “read” care providers’ non-verbal expressions and evaluate their attitudes (Bester & Van Deventer, 2015, p. 80). Therefore, a nurse or a physician should be sincere in their attempts to align treatment strategy with the individual patient needs by trying to comprehend a patient’s situation to its full extent, measure the level of his/her awareness about a health problem, and strive to develop trustful and cooperative relationships with each person. In this way, good communication may trigger positive progress in treatment and care delivery.
The inpatient care delivery implies long-term interactions between hospital personnel and patients who are incapable of self-care and require constant supervision. The criteria of patient satisfaction also include communication and staff skillfulness and expertise but it is possible to assume that the overall hospital climate acquires greater significance in the development of patient satisfaction in inpatient departments.
According to Li et al. (2016), patients who are happy with hospital environment tend to form a better perception of own health condition (p. 9). It means that adverse hospital environment associated with both psychological or physical negative factors (interpersonal conflicts or poor hygienic condition), on the contrary, aggravate patient perception of morbidity and illness and may lead to psychological distress. As a result, treatment outcomes in the hospitals with the unfavorable organizational climate can be significantly worse than in those with the positively charged environments arranged according to all hygienic norms and standards.
The provision of holistic treatment for patients with life-threatening or terminal conditions implies targeting all potential areas of patient and his/her relatives concerns: psychology, spirituality, social support, and physical state. McIlfatrick and Hasson (2014) state that a high-quality delivery of holistic treatment in a palliative care practice requires a detailed evaluation of patients’ needs and factors contributing to disorder progression (p. 1064). In order to develop a better understanding of a patient’s individuality, beliefs, and preferences, a careful assessment of his/her needs and physiological, psychological, and social circumstances is needed. The researchers suggest that patients want care providers to inquire about their emotional and biological needs as the perceived sense of professional involvement positively affects patients’ well-being (McIlfatrick & Hasson, 2014, p. 1065). Through regular communication with patients, specialists may obtain a useful background information about their current condition, concerns, and perceptions. And since a large amount of this information may be transferred in an indirect, implicit way, hospital staff should strive to develop attentiveness and sensitivity in order to elicit an important evidence that can be effectively used in the development and adjustment of intervention plans.
The holistic assessment of a patient in palliative care framework should address the following domains: physical health, social and occupational well-being, mental and emotional well-being, the level of adjustment to an illness, family relationship, spiritual well-being, awareness and decision-making (McIlfatrick & Hasson, 2014, p. 1067). Specialists’ ability to evaluate the diverse domains of patients’ life and acquire sufficient information can help to address the most vulnerable areas of patient’s state and suggest potential methods of treatment, alleviation of adverse symptoms, and minimization of negative factors’ influence.
The conducted literature review makes it clear that the implementation of holistic care delivery model may have significant positive impacts on the overall quality of healthcare and increase in patient satisfaction. The major identified components of holistic medicine include improved patient-provider communication, high level of hospital staff expertise, positive hospital environment, and sensitivity towards individual patient needs and characteristics. Although it is possible to presume that the consideration of every patient’s demands and the consequent alignment of care delivery activities is a challenging task, the pursuit of patient satisfaction increase through the provision of individualized approach and establishment of trustful and collaborative relationships with each patient can be regarded as a golden standard of professional practice, and every specialist should strive to achieve and implement it.
Azizam, N. A., & Shamsuddin, K. (2015). Healthcare provider-patient communication: A satisfaction study in the outpatient clinic at hospital Kuala Lumpur. Malaysian Journal Of Medical Sciences,22(3), 56-64.
Bester, P., & Van Deventer, Y. (2015). Holistic care for patients living with chronic wounds. Wound Healing Southern Africa, 8(2), 78-81.
Boissy, A., Windover, A., Bokar, D., Karafa, M., Neuendorf, K., Frankel, R., &… Rothberg, M. B. (2016). Communication skills training for physicians improves patient satisfaction. JGIM: Journal Of General Internal Medicine, 31(7), 755-761. Web.
Bullington, J., & Fagerberg, I. (2013). The fuzzy concept of ‘holistic care’: A critical examination. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences, 27(3), 493-494. Web.
Li, L., Lee, N. J., Glicksberg, B. S., Radbill, B. D., & Dudley, J. T. (2016). Data-driven identification of risk factors of patient satisfaction at a large urban academic medical center. Plos ONE, 11(5), 1-18. Web.
McIlfatrick, S., & Hasson, F. (2014). Evaluating an holistic assessment tool for palliative care practice. Journal Of Clinical Nursing, 23(7/8), 1064-1075. Web.
Tucker, C., Moradi, B., Wall, W., & Nghiem, K. (2014). Roles of perceived provider cultural sensitivity and health care justice in African American/Black patients’ satisfaction with provider. Journal Of Clinical Psychology In Medical Settings, 21(3), 282-290. Web.
Ziegler, D. (2015). Intensive holistic treatment for traumatized children. Reclaiming Children & Youth, 23(4), 40-43.