Patient, staff and physician satisfaction: a new model, instrument and their implications

Anne S. York (Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska, USA)
Kim A. McCarthy (Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine, California, USA)

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Publication date: 8 February 2011



Customer satisfaction's importance is well‐documented in the marketing literature and is rapidly gaining wide acceptance in the healthcare industry. The purpose of this paper is to introduce a new customer‐satisfaction measuring method – Reichheld's ultimate question – and compare it with traditional techniques using data gathered from four healthcare clinics.


A new survey method, called the ultimate question, was used to collect patient satisfaction data. It was subsequently compared with the data collected via an existing method.


Findings suggest that the ultimate question provides similar ratings to existing models at lower costs.

Research limitations/implications

A relatively small sample size may affect the generalizability of the results; it is also possible that potential spill‐over effects exist owing to two patient satisfaction surveys administered at the same time.

Practical implications

This new ultimate question method greatly improves the process and ease with which hospital or clinic administrators are able to collect patient (as well as staff and physician) satisfaction data in healthcare settings. Also, the feedback gained from this method is actionable and can be used to make strategic improvements that will impact business and ultimately increase profitability.


The paper's real value is pinpointing specific quality improvement areas based not just on patient ratings but also physician and staff satisfaction, which often underlie patients' clinical experiences.



York, A. and McCarthy, K. (2011), "Patient, staff and physician satisfaction: a new model, instrument and their implications", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 178-191.

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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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