Physician ratings drop when patient requests denied, study says
- In today’s consumer-driven healthcare environment, knowing how to turn down patient requests could be the difference between a positive or negative physician review, a new study from UC Davis Health suggests.
- The researchers compared patient satisfaction when specific requests were met or denied. When requests for referrals, medications and tests were refused, patients tended to rate their doctors 10 to 20 percentage points lower than when those requests were fulfilled.
- The study — which involved nearly 1,700 requests by 1,141 adults making 1,319 visits to 56 family physicians — recommends communications training to help physicians create a positive experience for patients without yielding to all their requests.
“It is common for patients to come to the doctor’s office with specific requests in mind,” lead author Anthony Jerant, chief of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at UC Davis Health, said in a statement. “Many of those requests are highly reasonable, but some are for services of questionable or low value that are unlikely to improve health or could even be harmful. Physicians rarely receive training on how to deal with those situations, which is crucial given the importance placed on patient-satisfaction survey results in improving health care and, in some cases, to determine physician compensation.”
The findings are noteworthy since the study involved a broad range of patient characteristics, the researchers notes. They now want to look at whether instructing physicians on how to manage patient requests could improve their overall ratings.
With patient satisfaction playing a role in how doctors and hospitals get paid, providers can’t afford to ignore patient reviews. Not only are patients filling out patient satisfaction surveys in hospitals, clinics and medical offices, they are posting their experiences online.
Some providers are going to court to challenge negative reviews and ratings. In Dallas, a pair of freestanding emergency departments petitioned a district court to force Google to reveal who posted nearly two dozen negative online reviews and ratings.
When a doctor gets a negative review, he or she should keep their anger in check and try to see the review from the patient’s perspective, David Williams, chief strategy officer at LEVO Health, told Healthcare Dive earlier this year. “The quicker the response, the more likely people will be to feel ‘heard.’”