High patient satisfaction linked to increased healthcare expenditures and increased mortality rate

Higher patient satisfaction was associated with greater inpatient use, higher overall health care expenditures, and increased mortality, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Key findings from the study, which examined data from the 2000 through 2007 national Medical Expenditure Panel Survey:

  • Patients who were the most satisfied were less likely to visit the emergency room, but more likely to have an inpatient visit
  • Highly satisfied patients also had about a 9% higher healthcare expenditure than less satisfied patients
  • Highly satisfied patients also had a higher mortality rate than those who were less satisfied with their care.

The authors conclude that the findings warrant careful investigation and should be used with caution, however, until the factors associated with patient satisfaction are better understood, overemphasizing these metrics could have unintended consequences.

(Sources: Kaiser Daily Health Policy Project, http://kaiserhealthnews.org, February 14, 2012; The Archives of Internal Medicine, http://archinte.ama-assn.org, February 2012; The Sacramento Bee, http://www.sacbee.com, February 14, 2012)