Are Patient Expectations Lowering Satisfaction Scores?

Evi Dewhurst / November 2017

“The first step in exceeding your customer’s expectations is to know those expectations.” – Roy H. Williams


Healthcare facilities are prioritizing patient satisfaction more than ever before. Your own hospital has probably been examining satisfaction surveys for ways to improve.

But there is one critical element closely linked to patient satisfaction that’s easy to miss.

That element is a patient’s expectations.

Your hospital satisfaction scores are invariably tied to a patient’s perception of expectations met, which could color their satisfaction responses.

Breastfeeding support patient satisfaction

Let’s take a closer look at this double whammy as it relates to breastfeeding support.

Incoming maternity patients have armed themselves with information and resources. They’ve even turned to social media to prepare themselves with details around the best tools and support mechanisms (and you can bet they’ll document their experience online as it happens, and even afterwards).

While this information self-sourcing is a bonus for families and their pregnancy plans, it also means that hospitals must prepare to meet the needs of this incoming population by addressing their expectations to improve patient satisfaction.

Here are 3 patient expectations and solutions you should be aware of:

Patient Expectation #1: “My healthcare team will guide me through this.”

Solution: Proactively update individual in-patient breastfeeding plans

Let’s face it: breastfeeding can be a roller coaster. This is especially true for a mom who has an expectation of immediate success and doesn’t achieve it. Perhaps it’s her first baby, or perhaps she had previous successful breastfeeding experience. Either way, she has a firm expectation in mind for easy, trouble-free breastfeeding.

Then the random variable strikes, and things do not work out as expected.

Birthing and emergency situations can also contribute to this.

  • Premature birth
  • Infant’s health
  • Mother’s health

These situations, along with other unforeseen circumstances, can disrupt any mother’s expectations for breastfeeding.

And they are definitely not feeling satisfied.

If they perceive (right or wrong) a lack of assistance and direction, that dissatisfaction is magnified.

This is where your expertise comes in. Whether you’re an L&D, NICU, or well-baby clinician, or an LC, this is a moment when your influence will help pivot patient expectations to satisfaction. Navigate a mother back to an updated plan of action (based on her existing circumstances), or see to it that she is connected with someone who can. Give her direction on what comes next. That will establish a guideline to follow, and ease her fear of the unknown.

Patient Expectation #2: “My hospital will provide learning resources for me.”

Solution: Offer current education resources

Now that these mothers and infants are in your care, be sure to provide quality education resources that align with their breastfeeding situation.

Your hospital likely has a video program mothers can view, printed worksheets, or handouts to share. If possible, have a clinician carefully review the documents in person. This one-on-one interaction goes a long way toward feeling satisfied with level of care, as well as an opportunity for your team to understand current feelings and concerns of your patient.

If your hospital does not currently offer a robust education program, there are many good alternatives:

  • Online education, such as Breastfeeding University, which offers video learning for a mother’s breastfeeding journey from pregnancy, through delivery, and into the next 12 months
  • Digital tools and apps, such as MyMedela and Ask the LC

Patient Expectation #3: “My hospital will provide what I need to successfully breastfeed my baby.”

Solution: Provide the best breastfeeding and pumping tools and accessories

Take a close look at the breastfeeding tools and accessories your hospital currently uses. They may not have been updated in a while.

These would include breastfeeding support tools as well as human milk collection tools and accessories.

Do they meet the varied needs of breastfeeding mothers in your care?

Patient satisfaction is more than just an industry standard. It’s something you can take pride in for your healthcare organization.

And at the end of the day, they aren’t just scores. They’re people. The same people you’ve felt a passion for serving with empathy, knowledge, and quality care since the day you began your clinical journey.

Your efforts in patient satisfaction won’t just change a number. They’ll change lives.


Learn more about the Symphony PLUS Breast Pump, which helps initiate, build, and maintain breast milk for mothers in your care.