Meeting Patients’ Needs During COVID-19: Positive Trends Persist

By Deirdre Mylod, PhD
Executive Director, Institute for Innovation
Senior Vice President, Research & Analytics


– Patient experience performance at the national level and in COVID-19 hot spots continued to trend positively through early March.

– The positive trends seem to confirm patients’ awareness of and appreciation for caregivers’ efforts during this challenging time.

– Of the few measures that did not improve, patients’ negative perceptions of cleanliness in the inpatient setting and their negative perceptions about visitor treatment in both the ED and inpatient setting likely reflect COVID-19–related concerns and policy changes.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, early data indicated that patients were becoming more favorable in their evaluations of their health care experiences. Updated analyses of inpatient and ED patient surveys received through early April confirm this upward trend for most measures.

In the figures below, measures are grouped by patients’ needs, which allows us to see more clearly the patterns in top-box trends. The analyses are based on surveys received through April 5, 2020, reflecting inpatient discharges through the first third of March and emergency department visits through the first half of March. In addition to the national performance picture, state-level performance is shown for Washington and New York because of the high prevalence of COVID-19 in those states.

National and “Hot Spot” Trends

At the national level, performance on most inpatient measures improved compared with February. The only exceptions are patients’ perceptions of cleanliness, behaviors related to visitors, and amenities such as the physical environment and food. The negative trends for cleanliness likely reflect patients’ growing fears about infection risk and control, as indicated in our recent analyses of patient comments. Downward trends for measures related to visitors can be linked to changes in visitor policies in response to COVID-19. The data from the states of Washington and New York show similar but even more dramatic positive patterns.

In the ED analyses, at the national level all measures except those related to visitors are trending higher for care delivered in the first part of March compared with February. Results for Washington and New York again reflect these positive trends, suggesting that caregivers in those states are able to meet patients’ needs even as the care demands increase.

These data tell a powerful story. The positive trends seen at both the national and state levels likely reflect patients’ growing appreciation for health care workers and the extraordinary efforts being undertaken to care for patients during this intense crisis. The industry is responding in amazing ways to this exceptionally challenging time, and patients are recognizing these efforts.

PX Trend Analyses Inpatient Trends
PX Trend Analyses ED Trends