Background: In 1991 the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC), an alliance of 70 academic health centers, began its patient satisfaction benchmarking project. The survey, adapted from the Picker Institute survey, was pilot tested in 1992 and has been in use since 1993. Each year the project's steering committee refines the survey on the basis of member needs and survey item performance.
Key findings: Findings have shown that the survey can document the effects of specific quality improvement efforts, that patients from different medical services report different levels of satisfaction with their care, and that physician and nursing care have had the greatest impact on overall satisfaction. USING THE RESULTS: Each participating organization receives concise narrative reports of the survey results, with priorities for improvement efforts clearly highlighted. A five-to six-page Executive Summary provides the organization's executive team with a quick overview of the results, as well as a summary of the areas where quality improvements are most needed. A longer Managers' Report provides a more detailed analysis of the findings for quality managers and department heads. Sections for each major area of care can be copied and distributed as "stand alone" reports to the appropriate decision makers. For example, the section on nursing care can be distributed to the chief nursing officer and nurse managers. For each key aspect of the patient's experience, best practices for maintaining patient satisfaction are identified from across the hospitals and compiled into a catalogue.
Lessons learned: The UHC patient satisfaction benchmarking program has created ongoing communication among the participating hospitals, whose staff members have been willing to share problems encountered and possible solutions.