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An Impressive Increase in NZ Patient Satisfaction

PRESS RELEASE: Health Services Consumer Research Ltd.

12 September 2005

Compared to the same period five years ago, patient satisfaction with the care they received from outpatient facilities has greatly increased.

This is the conclusion we can draw from the results of the nationwide patient satisfaction survey employed by all District Health Boards since June 2000. The survey is standardised for all DHBs and asks inpatients and outpatients a set of questions about the care and service they received from hospital staff and outpatient clinics.

Whereas inpatient satisfaction has remained relatively consistent for most DHBs (with some notable exceptions such as South Canterbury, Tairawhiti and Counties Manukau which experienced a significant rise in patient satisfaction), overall outpatient satisfaction has improved considerably for virtually all DHBs resulting in an overall increase on a national scale.

Health Services Consumer Research Ltd (HSCR) monitors patient satisfaction in every DHB in the country in its quarterly "New Zealand Patient Satisfaction Index" (NZPSI).

"This improvement in outpatient satisfaction is due both to specific aspects of outpatient care - such as treating patients with more dignity and respect, willingness to listen to patients' concerns and providing better information on how long they have to wait before being seen - as well as that specific District Health Boards such as Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti, Whanganui, Northland and Wairarapa DHBs, have made very significant progress in providing better services" said HSCR Managing Director Dr Gerard Zwier explaining the survey results.

As an example of this improvement Dr Zwier says that, "according to patients' ratings, DHBs such as the Bay of Plenty DHB "have made significant inroads in keeping the patients better informed and by being more culturally sensitive to the patients' needs."

The statistics on which he bases these conclusions are derived from a database obtained from the DHB Funding & Performance Unit of the Ministry of Health. To achieve comparability, HSCR staff calculate weighting factors for each DHB on the basis of the distribution of age, gender and ethnicity of their patients and apply these weights to every record in the dataset. These factors are applied because by doing so we avoid the danger that variances which are due to demographic make-up are interpreted as real differences.

Dr Zwier says that "the resulting NZPSI database presently consist of some 293,177 patient records and 4.7 million ratings from inpatients and outpatients in 21 District Health Boards."

According to Dr Zwier, who feels very passionate about improving patient satisfaction, "the NZPSI data makes it very evident that the country is moving in the right direction when it comes to providing better healthcare services." He says "This conclusion stands in stark contrast to those who accept flimsy data that does not take into account the demographic make-up of the DHB's patient population, the services provided by the hospital or their size and which purport to show that some hospitals have lower satisfaction ratings than other hospitals."

HSCR specialises in the development and implementation of patient and staff surveys in both primary and secondary care. In primary care, the company is presently engaged in rolling out the New Zealand General Practitioner Assessment Questionnaire (NZGPAQ) in GP practices around New Zealand. Further information on this can be found on www.hscr.co.nz. An online directory of organisations and key decision makers in the New Zealand health sector can be found on www.healthconnection.co.nz

ENDS

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