Doctors Should Work Toward Patient Satisfaction
An interesting piece in the June 2005 journal, American Family Physician, outlined five ways a doctor could work towards generating patient satisfaction. A doctor should:
- Establish a sense of trust with their patient
- Dig deeper to uncover the actual needs of the patient. Go beyond "What brings you in today?"
- Have a dialogue, not a monologue with their patient. There must be true interaction.
- Avoid forceful directives. Engage the patient to see how they feel about the proposed treatment approach.
- Follow-up with their patient. Either personally or through their staff, the doctor should check on progress being made with treatment goals that were set.
Forum Members Offer Opinions on Patient Satisfaction
We asked our forum members about patient satisfaction. We asked this question: What works for you to keep you at a high level of patient satisfaction? Is it that you feel your doctor listens? Your doctor understands? Your doctor tries new treatments and isn't complacent about your treatment options? A bright cheery office or hospital setting? That your phone calls get returned? What is it that is highly important to you in terms of patient satisfaction?
Here is a sampling of the responses:
I just wanted to be treated like a human being. It is nice to be believed and taken seriously.
I want a doctor who will take the time to explain and let me ask questions and answer them fully.
Not only do I want to be treated like a human being but as an intelligent human being. Don't talk down to me and don't give me simplistic answers.
My doctor is smart and up to date on research; he is not afraid to say he is wrong (on the few occasions that he is); he is willing to try any treatment that won't cause harm; and the entire office is wonderful. Phone calls are returned promptly, questions are answered, prescription refills are handled immediately -- the list just goes on and on.
I have to say, for me, it would be having all of my doctors working as a team. Whenever I have tests done each one is notified. Same with any procedures or hospitalizations. I've been pretty lucky.
I want my doctor to take the time to listen to what I am saying and address each issue. I do not like it when I am rushed. I do not mind waiting either in the waiting room or in the exam room for my doctor as long as when I see him, he spends the time with me and listens to and addresses my issues. I know they are not perfect. I realize they are only human and do not always have all the answers, but I just want to be heard and validated. I want to be treated as a whole person not just the sum of my symptoms!
Join the discussion on the forum about patient satisfaction.
The Bottom Line
Patients seem to know what they need and doctors seem to know what they need to do. Doctors should treat their patients according to how they wish to be treated. Quite simply, that's with R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Five Tips for Generating Patient Satisfaction and Compliance. American Family Physician. Pawar M. June 2005.