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Patient Experience vs Patient Satisfaction: What's the Difference?

3 minute read

Patient experience and patient satisfaction. They are two terms that are both important in the healthcare industry. But what do they mean? And how are they different from each other?

In this article, we’ll explain the difference between patient experience and patient satisfaction, highlighting their importance as we look toward the future of healthcare.


What Is Patient Experience?

Patient experience can be defined as “the physical experience during admission and the positive impact on the events that follow by empowering patients through education.”

The notion of patient experience is about encouraging patients to be actively involved in managing their care by understanding their diagnosis and being accountable for what happens next.

From a healthcare delivery perspective, patient experience includes several aspects patients value when seeking and receiving care. These include: 

  • Getting timely appointments
  • Easy access to information
  • Effective levels of communication 
  • Supported patient morale

Find out more about seven innovative and actionable ways to improve the patient experience here

For hospitals and Trusts, it’s critical to take the time to understand what patient experience means and develop a strategy to improve it within their institution. This is because it’s one of the key aspects of moving towards patient-centred care. 

Patient satisfaction also has a key role to play and the two terms are often used interchangeably. However, there are differences between the two. Read on to find out more about patient satisfaction.


What Is Patient Satisfaction?

Patient satisfaction is more about a patient’s expectations for their care experience. It’s a much more subjective healthcare measure. Two patients can receive the same care but have different satisfaction levels because they have different expectations. 

According to the National Centre of Biotechnology, supporting patient satisfaction can positively affect several aspects of a healthcare organisation. These include:

  • Improving patient retention rates
  • Securing a positive local reputation 
  • Contributing towards building a better quality of care 

To measure patient satisfaction, your organisation should collate patient satisfaction scores and discover ways to leverage them. This can be done in several ways, such as:

  1. Phone surveys 
  2. Written surveys
  3. Digital surveys
  4. Focus groups
  5. Personal interviews 

While you don't have to act on every suggestion your patients give you, you should take action on the essential items causing dissatisfaction. Remember, your goal is to improve quality and provide them with a positive experience. 

So, now you have a better understanding of what both patient experience and patient satisfaction mean — let’s look at how they differ.


Patient Experience vs Patient Satisfaction: How Are They Different?

To assess patient experience, your hospital or Trust must find out from patients whether something that should happen in a healthcare setting (such as having easy access to information) actually happened or how often it did.

On the other hand, satisfaction is about whether a patient’s expectations about a health encounter were met. Two people who receive the same care but have different expectations on how that care is supposed to be delivered might give contrasting satisfaction ratings. 

For example, one patient might have a different opinion from another on how they expect a hospital environment to look. Someone may think it’s clean, while another might think it isn’t clean enough. Patient satisfaction is subjective and ultimately hinges on how your health system meets individual expectations throughout the entire care journey.

Ready to learn more about patient experience and how it’s expected to change in the landscape of healthcare over the next four years? We have just the resource for you.



Providing Guidance on the Future of Patient Experience and How to Achieve Your Goals

In our latest guide, we provide an overview of what an exceptional patient experience looks like today and the direction it’s predicted to head in. To access your free copy, click the button below.

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