Patient Experience vs Patient Satisfaction. What’s the Difference?

When was the last time you visited a healthcare provider and you were really impressed with all the elements of your visit? If the staff was friendly, the office was clean, and you were seen on time, you just might call yourself a satisfied patient. While your happiness is important to medical professionals, another element is also evaluated every time you walk through their doors – your experience.

The two concepts sound nearly identical, right? Your experience and your satisfaction could potentially be the same thing, but from a healthcare perspective, they focus on two very different aspects.

Identifying the Patient Experience

As a patient, your experience at any one of your healthcare providers has to do with every interaction you have with them from start to finish. On a basic level, your patient experience is the sum of each instance of communication and the way it makes you feel about them.

Evaluating a patient’s experience starts with the first time they contact a healthcare provider, either through a phone call, email, or even just visiting their website. From that moment on, each dialogue, as well as each office visit, add up to a larger experience.

When trying to evaluate your own patient experience, you might ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I feel valued by this healthcare provider?
  • Would I recommend their services to a friend or family member?
  • How do they stand out from other providers I’ve been to that offer similar services?

Although a good portion of healthcare practices don’t make the extra effort to assess their patient’s experiences, the ones that do often see better patient retention. Offices that take the time to address this important issue may often end up making major changes to certain aspects of their operations if they find that people’s experience is less than favorable.

What Is Patient Satisfaction?

Since we’ve now learned that patient experience is like a zoomed out look at one’s interactions with their healthcare provider, what could patient satisfaction entail? This concept is a more singular evaluation of an office’s specific services or operations.

During your last visit to your dentist, did you notice that the receptionist was particularly friendly? Was the exam room clean and modern? Was your hygienist extra gentle during your cleaning? These elements play into patient satisfaction and can have a huge influence on your patient experience too.

Make Patients Your Greatest Brand Ambassadors Cover


Improving patient experience should be your number one goal as a healthcare marketer.  By doing this you can make patients your #1 brand ambassadors.

Healthcare practices often focus on patient satisfaction using surveys or online reviews, where they ask about specific aspects of your last interaction with their office. If their billing department is helpful and if you were seen on time are examples of questions they ask to identify your level of satisfaction.

What This Means for Patients

Both patient experience and patient satisfaction are important factors in today’s competitive healthcare marketplace, so as a patient it’s important to remember that your feedback matters. Providers who listen to their patients’ opinions find they can make a positive impact on their practice.

Whether your experience and satisfaction level are positive or leave something to be desired, communicating with your provider about your interactions with them will go a long way toward their success and your future happiness.

POSTED ON: April 1, 2017
By PatientX Agency | Patient Experience
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About the Author:

PatientX is a healthcare marketing company that specializes in helping care providers create better patient experiences. While placing an emphasis on the patient experience, PatientX works with members of the healthcare industry to achieve higher standards of patient care and satisfaction, and helping them achieve their goals of growth and success.