Patient Satisfaction Drops in Winter. What Can Hospitals Do About it?

Dec 07, 2020

winter scenery

Patient satisfaction scores are a concern for hospitals all year round. They represent the measurement of a hospital’s performance, and in addition, they have a significant impact on the reimbursements received by CMS. Low HCAHPS have cost hospitals up to 1.5 billion dollars in lost reimbursements every year, studies show.  

Winter Has Become a Worry for Hospitals 

Winter has become a concerning time for facilities. Not only can snow and icy conditions result in spikes in emergency room visits—resulting in crowded conditions, full ICU departments, and short-staffed emergency teamsthe winter also brings another concern for healthcare facilities: lower patient satisfaction. 

Why Does Patient Satisfaction Drop in the Winter? 

Known by Press Ganey as “the winter blues”, the phenomena of patient satisfaction scores dropping during the months of January, February and March has long been both a mystery and a concern for hospitals. Experts estimate that this issue is caused by three underlying factors: 

1. January through March is often a time that has the highest occupancy and patient acuity for hospitals. 

2. More patients are admitted into emergency rooms during these months, and patients who enter a hospital through the emergency room are notorious for having lower satisfaction scores. 

3. People are more likely to be stressed, depressed, or irritable during the winter months (known as seasonal affective disorder. Depression has been linked to lower customer service satisfaction scores in many industries. 

The winter can lead to a disaster scenario for hospitals. Inclement weather leads to crowded emergency departments and a lack of available beds. This creates stress for employees, patient flow issues, inefficiencies, mistakes in treatment, and lesser quality customer service, all of which will lead to lower HCAHPS scores. 

What Can Hospitals Do? 

When hospitals are crowded, care teams are stretched to capacity, and tensions are often running high, one of the best things a facility can do is stay organized. An organized emergency department with a focus on patient flow can alleviate the wait times and chaotic environments that threaten patient satisfaction scores. 

How can a hospital stay organized? For many emergency departments, implementing a custom whiteboard can be the solution. 

Whiteboards can be used to improve patient flow by helping keep track of patients scheduled and waiting for procedures, tracking patient movement throughout the hospital, updating bed capacity and admission statuses, and materials management. When placed in emergency rooms and nurses’ stations, whiteboards can be a critical organizational tool that supplements digital systems and keeps staff members on track and focused on what they need to do. When patients are coming in and out of a facility quickly, it’s essential to have an organized patient flow that covers everything from admissions to referrals, testing, and all the way to discharge. See examples of some of out whitebaords below.

Emergency Room Whiteboard

emergency room whiteboard


Nurses' Station Whiteboard

 nurses station


Want to learn more about how hospital whiteboards can improve patient flow at your facility? Contact VividBoard today!