Does Patient Satisfaction Change with the Seasons?


Does Patient Satisfaction Change with the Seasons?
February 29, 2024 MHO

Does Patient Satisfaction Change with the Seasons?

Many of MHO’s client hospitals continuously strive to improve their patients’ experiences during treatment, often reaching out to MHO for assistance in analyzing satisfaction data. One common area of exploration is around the impact of time of year or “seasonality”, particularly holidays, on patients’ satisfaction and the “likelihood to recommend the facility” item.

To explore this question broadly, we analyzed 4 years of “likelihood to recommend the facility” data in the form of Net Promoter Score from nearly 800,000 adult inpatient discharges across 161 facilities.  If certain times of year (months or seasons) have higher or lower scores, we would expect hospitals to consistently deviate from their own hospital’s average monthly NPS during those times of years. That is, hospitals would have an NPS higher than their average monthly NPS score during periods of “high” satisfaction and lower during periods of “lower” satisfaction. However, as seen in Figure 1, while there is month to month variation in NPS scores in terms of being higher or lower than the monthly average, there is no year-to-year consistency in which months or seasons are higher or lower.

Figure 1 below displays the typical variance from a facility’s typical yearly NPS average.


What about Holidays?

Taking seasonality one step further, we then wondered if holidays impact NPS scores.  To examine this, patients who were discharged 1 to 4 days after Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, or Christmas were identified as very likely to have received treatment during a holiday. NPS for those holiday patients was 38.4, and NPS for non-holiday patients was 37.1 indicating no difference in NPS score between patients who are in treatment during a holiday and those in treatment at other times. In fact, focusing specifically on the Christmas holiday, patients discharged on December 26th have almost the exact same NPS as those discharged on other dates (39.4 v 39.2). Other holidays had similar patterns of results.

Wrapping it all up

Our findings indicate that Net Promoter Score is not impacted by seasonal changes. Nonetheless, it remains important to explore other drivers of patient satisfaction. As shown in previous MHO Analytics in Action, the biggest impact on patient satisfaction is staff, namely the staff’s interactions with patients, addressing patient needs, and providing an effective treatment program. And as it turns out, the pursuit of an exceptional patient experience is a year-round endeavor, unswayed by seasonal shifts.