Patients Report Improved Satisfaction at the Doctor’s Office

New patient survey indicates primary care doctors in Greater Cincinnati are improving their customer experience

CINCINNATI – Going to the doctor is becoming a more satisfying experience for patients in Greater Cincinnati. The percentage of patients who gave their primary care doctor an exceptional rating jumped to 87% in 2014, up from 84% the previous year. The ratings were reported this week by 173 regional primary care medical practices participating in YourHealthMatters.org, the region’s only neutral, nonprofit physician rating website.

Results are calculated from a standardized and validated survey tool called the Clinician and Group-Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS). Surveys are delivered by mail to patients who have recently been to see their doctor. The patients are randomly sampled to eliminate bias. Responses are then compiled by an independent research company and submitted to YourHealthMatters.org.

YourHealthMatters.org is a tool developed locally by The Health Collaborative to help consumers make better choices about their health care and improve their engagement with their doctor. YourHealthMatters is the only rating tool that uses this validated method to capture patient experience data. Other rating tools rely on patients self-selecting to provide online feedback.

The survey asks patients to answer questions related to their experience in four areas: 1) getting care when needed, 2) how well doctors communicate, 3) courteous and helpful office staff, and 4) overall rating of the doctor.

The greatest improvements came in the categories of overall rating, up three percentage points, and getting care when needed, now at 64% from a previous high of 61%.

“What this means for patients is that primary care practice teams are listening to what matters most to patients when they seek care in a primary care setting,” said Dr. Barbara Tobias, Medical Director at The Health Collaborative. “From adding same-day appointments and reducing wait times, to expanding access to the practice with online communication and scheduling tools, we’re seeing a concerted effort across the region at both the health system and practice level to focus on improving patient experience.”

The Health Collaborative reported earlier this year that practices were implementing specific strategies to improve the access to care component of the patient experience survey. These strategies ranged from planned communication to patients, adding same-day appointment options and promotion of MyChart, the online portal for accessing personal health records, prescription refills, and scheduling appointments.

YourHealthMatters.org was launched in 2010 and currently rates primary care practices on diabetes care, cardiovascular health, and colon cancer screenings in addition to patient satisfaction. Hospital ratings are also available on YourHealthMatters.org. As a testament to the saying “what gets measured gets improved,” each measure rated by YourHealthMatters has shown improvement over its baseline rating.

“Measurement not only helps consumers make informed choices about their care but it also helps doctors see where they can improve, and that’s good for patients as well,” said Dr. Tobias.

Survey Results:
Patients’ overall rating of the doctor represents the percentage of patients that give their doctor an exceptional rating, measured by a rating of ‘9’ or ‘10’ on a scale of 0-10. From Jan. 2013 – Dec. 2014 the regional average of exceptional doctors increased from 84% to 87%.

Getting care when needed is a composite of questions measuring the percentage of patients who answered “yes” or “always” to survey questions about how often they got appointments for care as soon as needed, timely answers to questions when they called the office, and how often they saw the doctor within 15 minutes of their appointment time. The regional average for getting care when needed increased from 61% to 64% between Jan. 2013 – Dec. 2014.

How well doctors communicate reflects patient responses of “yes” or “always” to survey questions about whether their doctor knew their medical history, explained things clearly, listened carefully, showed respect, provided easy to understand instructions, and spent enough time with the patient. The regional average for physician communication increased from 93% to 94% Jan. 2013 – Dec. 2014, the highest result reported to YourHealthMatters.

Courteous and helpful office staff is measured by patient responses of “yes” or “always” to survey questions about whether the office staff was helpful, courteous and respectful, improved from 92% to 93% from Jan. 2013 – Dec. 2014.

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