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Patients Set to Unleash Feedback on Doctors

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 15, 2012

Doctors should brace for an earful about scheduling difficulties, hour-long waits, perceived disrespectful attitudes, and unreturned phone calls.

I know doctors think these aspects of the care process are, in the big scheme of things, minor annoyances that have nothing to do with their skills in diagnosis and treatment.

But perceived mistreatment by physicians and their staffs may have an enormous indirect, much more subtle, impact on patient compliance, and ultimately on quality and outcomes.

And that's why value-based purchasing "satisfaction" scorecards for primary care docs as well as specialists are just around the corner. Soon they'll be posted on some state health department websites, or on Physician Compare.

Patients across the country will get a formal chance to tell their doctors what they think about their patient experience, and some already do for physician care in hospital settings, through a patient survey modeled after HCAHPS (Medicare's Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems).  It's called the Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Health Providers and Systems, or CGCAHPS, questionnaire.

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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.