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Improving the patient experience

Article-Improving the patient experience

Plastic surgery patients report that being cared for by compassionate surgeons who offer coordinated care is more important to their satisfaction than whether the staff is pleasant, the office is easily accessible by phone or making appointments is easy, according to a study in the September issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Researchers analyzed Press Ganey survey responses from 411 patients in the Northwell Health System in New York and nearly 36,900 plastic surgery patients nationwide. Patients responded to the 24-item survey in 2016, and researchers examined which survey responses correlated most closely with patients’ ratings of how likely they would be to recommend a plastic surgeon and the practice.

They found while factors like wait time, scheduling and registration staff courtesy were significantly associated with patient satisfaction, the relationship was much weaker than it was for factors specifically related to the surgeons, themselves, including patients’ confidence in their surgeons and surgeons’ attention to patients’ questions and concerns. Surgeons’ explanations of problems or conditions and their efforts to include patients in decision making also were strongly related to patients’ likelihood to recommend the surgeon and practice.

The findings have important implications in today’s patient-centric culture in which the Affordable Care Act prioritizes patient experience and satisfaction as a quality measure, the authors write.

“A satisfied patient is one whose expectations have been met, but a trusting patient is one who has had his or her needs met,” according to the authors. “In earning patients’ trust, plastic surgeons can fulfill goals of a practicing provider and the goal of any medical professional: improving patient experience by meeting their needs.”