Patient Satisfaction Drives Innovation in Health Care

 Photo by  Clever Cupcakes

“See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me.”

This lyric from The Who’s Tommy (1969) is having a renaissance in the form of healthcare patient satisfaction surveys. Last week I interviewed a medical chaplain and former oncology resident for a patient experience project we’re working on. She told me:

“Patient satisfaction surveys are definitely starting to drive investments by healthcare systems.”

“And we’re training clinicians differently.”

“Studies show that if a clinician sits down, the patient feels you were there longer. And if you touch the patient, their satisfaction goes up.”

Whether this is a genuine expression of care, or just gaming the test, at least the pendulum is swinging in the right direction. A famous 1984 study found that during initial medical interviews, doctors interrupted their patients a mere 18 seconds after they begin to talk. A similar study in 1999 found a slight improvement to 23 seconds. 

It may be awhile before clinicians ask the kind of open-ended questions that innovators favor: 

“Tell me more.”

But, to quote another lyric from the 1960s, the times they are a-changin' (Bob Dylan, 1964). How about you, have you noticed any changes in the healthcare patient experience (If so, please tell me now, so I can factor it into our current project)?

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