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

3 minute read | 25/03/2024

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

Patient experience and patient satisfaction 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:

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

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, as it's one of the key aspects of moving towards patient-centred care and integrated care systems.

What is patient satisfaction?

Patient satisfaction is about patients' expectations for their care experience and feelings about the care provided.

It's a much more subjective healthcare measure, as two patients can receive the same care but have different satisfaction levels because they had different expectations at the start.

Supporting patient satisfaction can positively affect several aspects of a healthcare organisation, including:

You should collate patient satisfaction scores and discover ways to leverage them to measure patient satisfaction. 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 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.

Let’s look deeper into how patient experience and patient satisfaction differ.

Patient experience vs patient satisfaction: How are they different?

To assess patient experience, you 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.

Alternatively, patient satisfaction is about whether a patient's expectations about a health encounter were met.

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 care journey.

To improve patient experience, you need to understand what a patient expects from their healthcare journey and tailor their care to them.


The future of patient experience and how to achieve your goals

Our latest guide provides 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.

Patient Experience

75% of patients want digital healthcare services

So let’s work together to give it to them, all while optimising NHS processes.

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