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Difference between Patient Experience and Patient Satisfaction

October 28, 2021 - Parul Saini, Webmedy Team

Patient Satisfaction and Patient Experience both terms are used interchangeably in healthcare, but both terms are different and hold entirely different significance to healthcare experts. The difference between Patient Experience and Patient Satisfaction has implications for quality improvement in healthcare. Thus, healthcare professionals must understand the distinction between the two concepts and apply them appropriately to their work.

Here we will walk you through all about patient satisfaction and patient experience - Meanings of both terms and how they are different.

What is Patient Experience?

There is no standard definition of Patient Experience. Here is a general definition - Patient Experience refers to the wide range of interactions patients have with the healthcare system, including everything like their care from health plans, and doctors, nurses, and staff in hospitals, physician practices, and other health care facilities. As an integral component of health care quality, patient experience includes several aspects of health care delivery that patients value highly when they seek and receive care, such as getting timely appointments, easy access to information, and good communication with health care providers.

Ensuring a good patient experience means standing up to the patient's expectations of what they seek in times of need. These include:

  • Ensure that the patients receive timely appointments.
  • Provide the means to easily contact healthcare providers.
  • Ensure that patients have easy access to crucial information.
  • Use patient feedback software for a better understanding of what patients are experiencing.
  • Use patient experience survey software to predict the needs of the patients and to repair the defects or shortcomings of the system.

What is Patient Satisfaction?

Patient Satisfaction is related to a patient's expectations during their care encounter, it is a subjective measure. By subjective, it means that different patients will have different levels of satisfaction for the same quality of healthcare owing to different kinds of expectations. Patient satisfaction is a fulfillment of the expectations they have of the healthcare they seek or pay for. Health systems must keep a pulse on patient satisfaction due to increasing consumerism in healthcare. Today's patients are acutely aware of the cost of healthcare, and they want to be treated like the high-paying customers they are. By meeting patients' care expectations, providers are more likely to increase loyalty and maximize patient lifetime value.

Here are a few ways to make patients satisfied:

  • Offering customized service by tracking their previous experience feedback.
  • Investing time in educating the patients.
  • Maintaining cleanliness at all times.
  • Using patient satisfaction survey software to understand how satisfied patients are with the service.
  • Making sure that the patient can easily reach out to authorities with their opinions at any time.

How Patient Experience Differs from Patient Satisfaction?

As mentioned earlier, patient experience and patient satisfaction are two used interchangeably but have different meanings for healthcare professionals. So, here we have listed differences between patient experience and patient satisfaction.

Here is an example - Two patients got the same care at the same health organization. Both undergo the same treatment and diagnosis from the same surgeon, same prescriptions, same staff, and same nurse. Their experience was nearly identical. Even after the same experience, these two individuals may not report the same satisfaction rating, because they have different subjective expectations.

Patient satisfaction surveys ask, "How did we do?"

Patient experience surveys ask, "What happened?

Patient satisfaction surveys ask, "Did your doctor spend enough time with you?"

Patient experience surveys ask, "How often did you get help when you wanted it?

Patient experience is more about communication and interactions before, during, and after the procedure. Patient satisfaction tilts towards the more commercial aspect of healthcare, by focusing on how more patients can be prompted to engage with the service being provided. On the other hand, the patient experience focuses more on the humane side of healthcare, including benefits, which take into consideration factors like affordability and accessibility of services. The quality of care and treatment is more important than the quality of food or other amenities. Irrespective of how important patient satisfaction is, hospital perks cannot make up for a lack of proper diagnosis and care.

Patient satisfaction means the feedback received on the different aspects of healthcare services only, like the temperature of the food or clean bedsheets can boost patient satisfaction. But these factors, while important, are not always very critical or absolute. Patient experience is a broad term that takes a wide range of items under its purview. It is more of a holistic measure, taking into account different non-technical factors that influence healthcare services. It includes optimizing various aspects of patient interaction, from communication, hospital environment, and safety to providing top-quality care.


Patient Satisfaction and Patient Experience are often used interchangeably, but the two terms have entirely different meanings and implications for care quality. It is essential to understand and utilize these terms appropriately to deliver incredible healthcare services. By tracking both areas individually and combining the insights, your organization will get a greater knowledge of the patient's viewpoint. Once you understand these, your health system will be able to open new roads for business, improve your quality of care, and keep patients for life.

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