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How to Bridge the Gap Between Doctor and Patient Expectations

How to Bridge the Gap Between Doctor and Patient Expectations

Doctor and patientAs healthcare professionals, you know the drill when it comes to diagnosing your patients and putting them on the path to good health—observe, ask questions, test if necessary, reflect on the answers and observations, then act.

But some of you seem a little less certain how to do that when it comes to the health of your medical organization, be it a hospital, private practice, or research facility.

For example, according to our study, only 17% of senior-level healthcare professionals (HCPs) provide patients with information about their medical research. But 44% of patients want to know more about it. And that’s not the only disconnect between caregivers and the populations they serve.

So how can you bridge the gap between healthcare provider and patient expectations? Just ask.

How do we know? We asked.

Using SurveyMonkey Audience, we asked 717 senior-level healthcare professionals and 1,046 patients (167 of whom were hospitalized and 856 who had seen a medical provider in the previous year). And we piled up a passel of knowledge about everything from what patients think about the healthcare they’re receiving, to how employees feel about the way the way their organizations are run (and how to make them run even better).

Take a look at what we found—because the info may help you attract loyal patients, keep your hospital staff productive and happy, and maintain a healthy patient safety culture, just to name a few benefits.

Ask (about the patient experience) and you shall receive

The good news: Our surveys revealed that patients want you to know about their experience. A whopping 86% of patients surveyed said they complete patient satisfaction surveys.

The glass-is-half-empty news: Only 50% of patients said they received a post-visit patient survey in the past year.

They’re out there—those patients willing to help you improve practically every aspect of your medical practice. They’re just waiting for you to ask them things like:

“Did we keep your appointment on time?” (80% of senior-level HCPs believe they do, yet only 52% of patients agree.) 

We also asked patients to rank how important certain pieces of information are to them when choosing a provider. Then we asked HCPs which types of information their facilities provide about their healthcare providers to new patients: 

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 11.13.35 AM

As you can see, HCPs aren’t giving patients the information they care about most. For example, 56% of HCPs say their organization tells patients about their providers’ education and training, while 89% of patients want to know this information. 

If you engage with your employees, they’ll engage you right back

It won’t surprise you to learn that much of your patients’ experiences with your healthcare organization depends on, and are tightly connected to, your employees and how well they perform their jobs. Your unhappy employees may be negatively affecting patient loyalty—and may even jeopardize patient safety.

Our survey of HCPs showed that although a majority are satisfied with the training their organization provides (68%) and with the amount of patient interaction they have in their position (74%), they’re less enthusiastic about the level of communication at their organization:

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Only about half of healthcare employees believe the folks upstairs are communicating extremely well or very well; the other half feel like their executives need a shot in the arm to boost their communication skills to staffers.

(However, size does matter. Our results indicate that smaller is better in terms of effective management-employee communications. A solid majority, 63%, of employees at smaller healthcare organizations report senior leaders communicate well with them; in hospitals, that number drops to just 45%.)

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First do no harm, then start asking questions

A lax patient safety culture, for example, almost certainly leads to more mishaps, minor and major, inflicted on patients. Earlier this year, we asked SurveyMonkey customers how they use healthcare surveys. Only 40% say they use surveys to measure the efficacy of patient safety culture in their organizations. How can you do better?

If you want to increase patient loyalty, improve medical staff engagement, and bolster your patient safety culture, start with SurveyMonkey’s CAHPS and HCAHPS surveys (written by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) to produce data about patients’ perspectives, enhance accountability in healthcare, and encourage public reporting of the survey results.

And you don’t have to worry about how to professionally design, develop, and implement high-quality healthcare surveys—because we’ve done all the work for you. Check out our healthcare survey resource center to get everything you need to diagnose and treat your medical organization.

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