If you’re active on social media, you may remember a fun little hashtag that was trending on Twitter a while ago. The conversation surrounding this catchy phrase covered how patients feel about their doctors’ bedside manner and listening skills, and it caused an intense reaction from both patients and medical providers alike.
Wherever you fall in that discussion, the fact remains that a lot of patients aren’t happy with their healthcare.
Because patient satisfaction is so important, we surveyed nearly 500 U.S. patients to learn how providers can make things better, and we found the one thing you can start doing today to improve relations with your patients: shared decision-making.
Shared decision-making is the idea that medical providers and their patients can and should collaborate on decisions regarding patients’ healthcare.
Patients want to understand and be understood
When trying to figure out why patients aren’t satisfied with their healthcare, the best place to start is by asking them what they don’t like. So that’s exactly what we did.
Our survey respondents said they don’t like to feel rushed during the actual appointment (26 percent), but they’re also frustrated by providers who make them wait a long time (16 percent).
The rest of the responses all shared a common theme. Patients feel their doctors don’t show them respect during consultations, whether by failing to explain things clearly, interrupting, or speaking in a condescending tone.
The important thing to remember when it comes to patient satisfaction is that patients just want to feel heard and respected.
More and more, patients are resisting the idea that medicine is something that happens to them, with little to no input required from them at any point in the process.
Patients want to understand their complicated medical diagnoses and be involved in decisions regarding their treatment options, which will benefit everyone by helping patients be more informed about how they can take better care of themselves when they’re not in your office.
And I have great news! There’s a very simple way you can start collaborating with your patients to make that happen. It’s called shared decision-making.
Most patients don’t know that shared decision-making is an option—but they want it
Evidence suggests patients are very much on board with the idea of shared decision-making, and yet half of the respondents in our survey (52 percent) had never discussed the concept with their doctors.
Just because patients haven’t had conversations about shared decision-making with their providers, doesn’t mean they don’t want it.
We asked patients if they would prefer a healthcare provider who takes their preferences and concerns into account before determining a treatment plan (i.e. engaged in shared decision-making) over one who didn’t.
Unsurprisingly, 97 percent said they would.
We wanted to dig a little deeper than that by asking what level of collaboration patients wanted from their doctors.
Again, it’s no shocker that most (66 percent) said they’d like to be equal partners in the decision-making process; however, over a quarter were willing to leave the ultimate decision up to their doctors if they were given the opportunity to weigh in at some point.
This tells me that despite feeling frustrated at times, patients still have plenty of trust in their medical providers.
That makes it a lot easier for doctors to begin engaging in shared decision-making with their patients right away.
So how can you begin shared decision-making today?
Using shared decision-making as a strategy to improve patient satisfaction doesn’t have to be complicated. Essentially, anything you do while seeing or communicating with patients that helps them feel more involved in their care counts, so you have plenty of options here.
What you can do today:
- Add five minutes to your schedule for each patient visit to allow for more time to discuss things.
- At the end of each visit, ask patients if they have questions or if there was anything else they wanted to talk about but didn’t get a chance to mention. Create room in the conversation for them to speak.
What you can do next week:
- Create one-sheet information handouts for common diagnoses, medications and FAQs that you can quickly and easily share with patients while they’re in your office to help them better understand everything.
- Run a survey of your patients to learn more about what they expect from you and how involved they want to be in their care.
What you can do next year:
- If you’re not already using one, start thinking about a patient portal that will make it easier for you to communicate with patients throughout their treatment.
When the time comes to consider your software options, remember that you can always speak to our team of expert medical advisors to learn more about patient portal systems that will meet your budget and needs.
Demographics and methodology
For our survey, we collected responses from 498 U.S. patients who had visited a medical provider within the last year. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood their meaning and the topic at hand.
The gender of our survey respondents was nearly even, with 51 percent female and 49 percent male.
Nearly half of our respondents were between the ages of 26 and 35, with the second largest group being between 36 and 45 years old.
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