Patient satisfaction as a predictor of return-to-provider behavior: analysis and assessment of financial implications

Qual Manag Health Care. 2004 Jan-Mar;13(1):75-80. doi: 10.1097/00019514-200401000-00007.


Although customer loyalty is frequently cited as a benefit of patient satisfaction, an empirical link between the two has not, to our knowledge, ever been statistically established in a hospital setting. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the relationship between self-reported patient satisfaction measures and subsequent return to the provider for care at a large academic medical center. Data from all adult medical patients responding to a patient satisfaction survey distributed by a large midwestern academic medical center during fiscal year 1997 (n = 1485) were analyzed. Response patterns were examined as they related to whether patients returned to the provider during the subsequent 2-year period. Analyses suggested that return-to-provider was associated with only a minority of the satisfaction items (approx. 11%). All items showing a significant relationship measured perceptions of how well physicians and nurses attended to, and provided information to, patients and their families. Although the size of these relationships was generally small, the estimated financial implications are substantial. Other implications of these findings for planning effective service improvement initiatives as well as improving patient survey design are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers / economics
  • Academic Medical Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Services Research
  • Humans
  • Midwestern United States
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Self Disclosure