Patient Satisfaction Scores

For the past fifteen years that I have been an employed physician the subject of patient satisfaction scores have been a very sore subject amongst doctors.   No one ever buys into it.  The reasons are probably many.  The biggest objection is having your payments affected it by it.  I understand that.  The companies that do these surveys are suspect and their measures of validity and statistical significance leave me doubting the process.  One company uses 4o returned satisfaction scores to determine a doctor’s rating.  Sounds a little lame to me.  The wrong patient wanting a narcotic could lead you down a dark road.  Also, this job is to be a consultant and partner in a patient’s achievement of health.   Many times the patients don’t want to hear the things you are saying.  I have blogged about this before. Over at they discuss how rich hospitals consistently get better scores.  This is a valid concern. What about those hospitals and doctors located in underserved areas?  Over at the American Medical News they discuss how for-profit websites that rely on anecdotal patient reports are the easiest ones to find using the Google search engine.    We are really in murky waters here.  I hear the grumblings all the time, even in other industries (auto service).  Please comment on your concerns over patient satisfaction scores and how it affects bonus pay, tarnishes reputations, are unreliable, etc.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  5 comments for “Patient Satisfaction Scores

  1. Mark C
    December 28, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    A happy and satisfied patient is typically one who is overtreated and overtested.

  2. Neurologist
    December 28, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    How about having “Patient Satisfaction Ratings” where physicians (and other healthcare providers) could rate their patients?

    • J.Perry
      January 2, 2012 at 8:56 am

      I agree, let’s have a Medical Office/Physicain satisfaction survey and base the amount an insurance company pays a physician on how high he/she rates each patient. The most troublesome, high maintenance patients pulling the highest reimbursement rates.

  3. David Devonis
    December 28, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Exactly the same situation exists with student ratings of instruction. Well known, well established phenomenon. Ratings are worth about as much as letters of recommendation for employment–that is, not much unless cross-validated.

  4. George Voigtlander
    December 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Qualilty is a hard thing to define to everyone’s satisfaction. Because of this we use surrogates. One of these is satisfaction, often affability is more important than competence. There have been studies that showed that hospitals which provide 4 star hotel type service rate high, whereas those with better outcome data are less popular and lower rating. Who wouldn’t want chardonnay instead of tap water for supper?

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