Operational factors associated with emergency department patient satisfaction: Analysis of the Academy of Administrators of Emergency Medicine/Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine national survey

Acad Emerg Med. 2021 Jul;28(7):753-760. doi: 10.1111/acem.14278. Epub 2021 Jul 8.


Background: Patient satisfaction is a focus for emergency department (ED) and hospital administrators. ED patient satisfaction studies have tended to be single site and focused on patient and clinician factors. Inclusion of satisfaction scores in a large, national operations database provided an opportunity to conduct an investigation that included diverse operational factors.

Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of the 2019 Academy of Administrators in Academic Emergency Medicine/Association of Academic Chairs of Emergency Medicine (AAAEM/AACEM) benchmarking survey to identify associations between operational factors and patient satisfaction. We identified 59 database variables as potential predictors of Press Ganey likelihood-to-recommend and physician overall scores. Using random forest modeling, we identified the top eight predictors in the models and described their associations.

Results: Forty-three (57.3%) academic departments responding to the AAAEM/AACEM survey reported patient satisfaction scores for 78 EDs. Likelihood to recommend ranged from 30.0 to 93.0 (median = 74.8) and was associated with ED length of stay, boarding, use of hallway spaces, hospital annual admissions, faculty base clinical hours, proportion of patients leaving before treatment complete (LBTC), and provider in triage hours per day. Physician overall score ranged from 53.3 to 93.4 (median = 81.9) and was associated with faculty base clinical hours, x-ray utilization, annual ED arrivals, LBTC, use of hallway spaces, arrivals per attending hour, and CT utilization.

Conclusions: ED patient satisfaction was associated with intrinsic and extrinsic factors, some being potentially manageable within the ED but others being relatively fixed or outside the control of ED operations. For likelihood to recommend, patient flow was dominant, with erosion of satisfaction observed with increased boarding and longer LOS. Factors associated with physician overall score were more varied. The use of hallway spaces and base clinical hours greater than 1,500 per year were associated with both lower likelihood-to-recommend and lower physician overall scores.

Keywords: emergency department; patient experience; patient satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Medicine*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Triage