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Patients Set to Unleash Feedback on Doctors

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 15, 2012

A friend's bad patient experience during the doctor's office visit got a tongue lashing on Facebook this week with comments that followed this status update:

"Why do doctors think their time is more valuable than yours?" she asked.

"I spent 90 minutes, essentially, to [see the doctor to] get a refill for my Rx. I waited a full hour before she came in, which to me is simply inexcusable," she said. "The only good thing was that she was very patient and thorough, although she seemed to have no recollection of my previous visits...If they don't know how much we resent being treated like this, they should."

She might as well have poked a tiger in the remarks that followed from others with humiliating experiences.

"I waited half an hour this morning while my doctor was schmoozed by some pharmaceutic[al] floozie. Very irritating," one person wrote.  They think they get to act that way because of "what we pay them," answered another.

The angry, "We-shouldn't-have-to-take-this-anymore" thread, which was much longer than I can display here, got me thinking. It reminded me that we soon will enter an era of formalized surveys that finally give patients a chance to talk back to their doctors en masse, to say how they really feel about the quality of their office visit experience

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2 comments on "Patients Set to Unleash Feedback on Doctors"


Joel Selmeier (3/16/2012 at 12:54 AM)
Unfortunately, articulating the frustrations of patients is unlikely to protect future patients from caregivers who produce poor outcomes. When a dentist routinely installs unnecessary crowns, patient victims don't know they were unnecessary and so don't write warnings for future patients. The average victim of an adverse event in medicine never knows there was an adverse event, even when the result was disabling. Caregivers make sure of that. Patient feedback ends up being about the wait in the waiting room, not the really important matters. If patients do know something important to report, medicine is good at stopping them. So the difference that is going to be made by the coming feedback will be only about waiting room annoyances and bedside manner, not the really important things, like outcomes.

Kristin Baird, RN, BSN, MHA (3/15/2012 at 2:59 PM)
Great article Cheryl. The bottom line in the discussion is that people are emotional creatures which is at the core of the patient experience. How we gauge quality rests on our past experience and expectations. In every encounter, patients judge quality based on everything from wait time to cleanliness and whether or not the doctor looked them in the eye or remembered their name. Physicians can't rest on accurate diagnosis and treatment to thrill a consumer when that is a basic expectation. Healthcare is personal and usually delivered at a time when the consumer is stressed, anxious and vulnerable. CGCAHPS will raise the service bar as consumers use the standardized tool to compare providers. I recently conducted focus groups with consumers and the vast majority said they had googl'd their physician. In the same session participants said they rarely went to restaurants or made purchases without looking at online reviews. Consumers value other customer opinions. The writing is on the wall.