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Patients Set to Unleash Feedback on Doctors

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 15, 2012

"It's not overwhelming, as in lots and lots of evidence that's been repeated, but there's enough that I can say with confidence there's a good correlation between experience in the practice and outcomes," he says.

Research into the reasons why patients failed to follow up with appointments shows one negative impact of a patient's poor experience with a doctor. One response that came out was the physician's failure to show the patient respect.

"When you parse out 'respect,' with these individuals, it turned out that it masked things like, 'You kept me waiting around,' 'You didn't listen to me,' 'You treated me rudely,' " Moore says.

Likewise, Moore says there is a lot more scientific evidence that points to the inverse, that patients who have good experiences with their visits and perceive that their doctors treat them with respect are more likely to stick to recommended treatment plans.

A colleague conveyed a comment made by a physician at last week’s American Medical Group Association National Conference in San Diego, “If your patients are non-compliant, then it’s your fault [as the doctor]. You didn’t convince them.” And how can you ‘convince’ your patients if they don’t feel you respect them?

So to patients who think they deserve faster responses, shorter waits and yes, more respect from their doctors and practice staff, I say just wait a bit longer. You'll soon have your chance to tell them in a format that will command them to pay attention.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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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.