It’s been interesting to watch doctors come to terms with competition in their field. Many doctors appear as bothered by the idea of choice for their patients as The Big Three automakers have been since...the ’70’s(?) when imports arrived to ruin the illusion they’d created for us.
The challenge of competitors is an illusion for some doctors. They offer unmatched levels of attention and expertise for their patients.
The tools and resources of social media tools are easily embraced by some doctors to better connect with and serve their customers.
But for other doctors, the idea that their patients' satisfaction with their visits and treatment should be important to them has them shocked, shocked, they say.
News of this rebellion among their customers reaches many now in a way they no longer can ignore: the customer satisfaction survey with a portion of their income tied to the results. And they are even more shocked, shocked, they say to learn now that their income may be tied to the happiness of their customers as reported in these surveys.
Patient-satisfaction Surveys Have Drawbacks, by Dr. Kevin Pho made me chuckle.
If a medically unnecessary test or drug is requested, for instance, an added financial incentive encourages physicians to comply, rather than risk angering the patient.
Yes, we patients get so angry when additional charges are refused us for a medically unnecessary procedure or prescription.
Doctors are constantly under the microscope to give patients what they want, since 'giving people what they want' has been tragically (and falsely) equated with good medicine.
Yes. That confusion is tragic since what we want is...good medicine.Newsflash 1: These surveys are a godsend to you. And they are but the tip of this iceberg. Your patients tell their friends and family all about you and their experience with you. They say much more, in much more descriptive terms, to many more people when they are unhappy with their experience with you.
Newsflash 2: Your incomes are already tied to your patients' satisfaction. Your income reflects the results of these conversations.
How do we patients choose our doctors?
We ask our friends, our colleagues, our families.
Will we keep coming back?
Let’s say a patient is unhappy with you. Again and again.
And, you appear uninterested in their opinion.
That’s ok with the patient. A whole community of people will listen to their story. Everyone wants to be warned about a doctor who doesn’t treat their friend/family/colleague well. And everyone wants to help recommend a doctor who does deliver a more satisfying visit.
And everyone loves to tell a story.
That means that one unhappy patient, the one you sees you as someone who doesn't care about their opinion, will tell their friends and family and colleagues. And their friends and family and colleagues will their...friends and families and colleagues.
Can you picture all those people talking about you as an uncaring physician? If you can't right now, don't worry. Soon, you will have plenty of time and quiet in your office to imagine what they have said.
Newsflash 3: We are your partner in our care. Yes, you are the doctor. But we are the patients. We know our health, or its lack, best Or we could if you spent more than 15 minutes on average with us.
And it’s our health that’s at risk with your decisions, including the ones to communicate.
So, if we’re unhappy and have received the best care in the world...who has the information to eliminate that gap? Have you taken the time to communicate why the best care in the world leaves us unsatisfied?
It would be tragic to allow that gap to exist if you have the means to eliminate it.
It’s our health and happiness we’re most concerned about, not yours. You are the expert in medicine. We are the experts in our health. And, if you choose to not communicate with us how your expertise brings us satisfaction you have failed us.
We want you to answer these three questions:
What’s in it for us?
Why should we care?
Why should we believe?
That last question is important. Faith is often our only option until your recommended treatment confirms your hypothesis.
Back to the points.
1. Patients talk every day about our doctors. We talk with each other, our families, co-workers, friends, public transit riders... Do you want to join that conversation?
2. Patients make decisions based on those conversations. Do you want to join that conversation? (If not, then those conversations play a larger role in our decisions.)
3. Your income already reflects our satisfaction with you. Your income is the net result of those conversations. Even if you are a sole practitioner in a remote area...patients will not visit if they are encouraged to distrust you.
Patient satisfaction surveys are a tepid, arms-length, step to show you care. It's like putting a wall in your examination room and yelling questions over it to the patients.
But, hey, it's a first step.
And if you don't like the what you hear or can't hear us...maybe stop. Take down the wall and listen. You'll be surprised what you hear. And richer, too.