What do patients really want? An in-depth examination of patient experience in four Australian hospitals

BMC Health Serv Res. 2019 Jan 15;19(1):38. doi: 10.1186/s12913-019-3881-z.


Background: Patient satisfaction is an important outcome measure guiding quality improvement in the healthcare setting while the patient-centred care movement places increasing importance on patient engagement in clinical decision-making. However, the concept of patient satisfaction is not clearly defined, and beliefs of patients are not always evident in health surveys. Researchers rarely follow up on surveys to explore patient views and what they mean in greater depth. This study set out to examine perceptions of hospital care, through in-depth, qualitative data capture and as a result, to gather rich, patient-driven information on user experience and satisfaction in the Australian healthcare setting; and identify influencing factors.

Methods: Focus groups were undertaken in four St Vincent's Health Australia (SVHA) hospitals in 2017 where participants discussed responses to eight questions from the Press Ganey Patient Experience Survey. Thirty people who were inpatients at SVHA.

Results: Good communication and high-quality information at arrival and discharge were found to be important to patients. Communication breakdown was also evident, further exacerbated by a range of environmental factors such as sharing a room with others. Overall, patients' felt that while their spiritual needs were well-supported by the hospital staff at all SVHA hospitals, it was the clinical teams prioritised their emotional needs. Good communication and environments can improve patient experience and follow-up at home is vital.

Conclusions: Patient-centred care needs careful planning with patients involved at entry and exit from hospital. Focused communication, environmental changes, attending to complaints, and clearer discharge strategies are recommended.

Keywords: Communication and hospital environment; Discharge; Focus groups; Patient experience; Patient satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hospitals, Private*
  • Hospitals, Public*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Patient Preference*
  • Patient Satisfaction*