Research conducted by investigators at the Tufts School of Medicine have reported on a US representative study measuring the factors that may lead to patients recommending one ophthalmic practice over another. The results, published in July’s issue of the journal Ophthalmology, indicate that patients put a high value on the perceived team work they experience within the practice, in addition to their confidence in the clinician and the quality of clinical care provided. Interestingly, “waiting times” to see the clinician and the ease of getting an appointment appeared to be among the lowest correlated factors among patients willing to recommend a practice.
The research survey, conducted over a 1-year period by the Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Tufts University, was aimed at understanding what drives patient satisfaction, a critical metric for healthcare providers in order to maintain good patient relationships. Under the US Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, such surveys are tied into a hospital’s ability to secure re-imbursement and thus are critical to the funding of healthcare provision. The research collected 140,355 surveys which represented 1,109 unique healthcare providers across the US. The mean age of respondents was 64.6 years (std. dev 17.4 years), with 71.1% of the population between 50 and 79 years of age while the sex ratio of the respondents was 59:41 female to male. With the first language of respondents being English for 99.3%, Spanish for 0.6%, and Chinese for 0.1%.
Results from the survey showed that a chi-squared automatic detection analysis found the likelihood of a patient recommending their care provider to others was 0.800, while the patient’s perception of how well the clinic staff worked together to provide the patient with care also scored highly, at 0.741. The patient’s confidence in their care provider was 0.719, while other factors including the ease of scheduling an appointment (0.392), the ease of getting through to the clinic on the phone (0.385), and the convenience of office hours (0.349) appeared to be among the least correlated factors associated with a likelihood for the patient to recommend a practice. In addition, the wait time at the clinic appeared to be one of the lowest correlated factors (0.427), according to the study authors. The results of the study showed little difference in the metrics across age groups, gender or geographic location, indicating a consistency among patients in respect of what they found important. A clear conclusion highlighted by the researchers was the “the primary importance of the patient-physician relationship” and that both the quality of care and value-add of the ophthalmology team from first phone contact to leaving the clinic after the appointment all feed into a patient’s evaluation of the care received.