Healthcare consumers today are more discerning than a decade ago, and physician executives are taking note by directing more attention to patient satisfaction, a survey of Modern Physician readers shows.
Customer researcher Press Ganey Associates of South Bend, Ind., a survey co-sponsor with Modern Physician, queried 385 physician executives. Eighty-two percent said their organizations now measure patient satisfaction.
Six-physician Onslow Surgical Clinic in Jacksonville, N.C., has been measuring patient satisfaction since early 2001. Lennox Williams, M.D., a general, vascular and critical care surgeon at the private practice, says patient feedback has helped improve physician timeliness and staff attitudes toward customers.
"We live in a competitive environment, and we try to see what we can do better to keep our patients happy," he says.
Dennis Kaldenberg, vice president for research operations and services for Press Ganey, says, "It took a while for satisfaction to become a priority." But patients today "understand that quality of care is broader than clinical quality."
"Our hospital is really active in surveying patients," says Jeffrey Snyder, M.D., director of emergency medicine at Divine Savior Healthcare, a 60-bed hospital in Portage, Wis. "It's our biggest motivator."
Snyder says management bases annual performance reviews of physicians in part on trends in patient satisfaction scores.
"I think it's a good indicator of what your perception is in the community."
In the past four years at Divine Savior, the patient population has grown 40%. Snyder says that is due to customer-friendly changes like reducing the average ER stay to 65 minutes from nearly three hours and shifting to bedside registration for patient privacy.
But at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago, ED Director William Lauth, M.D., cautions, "A customer satisfaction survey measures perception of care . . . but it doesn't necessarily measure care."
Turn to page 28 for survey results.