Patients are forgiving when doctors rush a visit

  | November 22, 2017

Patients notice when a doctor is rushing through an appointment, but the hastiness doesn't affect their overall satisfaction with their care encounter, according to data from athenahealth.

The surprising finding suggests that doctors can bolster their productivity without jeopardizing their patients' perception of their office visit — as long as the patients don't have a long wait to be seen in the first place.

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The finding comes from an athenahealth study that used data from 200,000 patient surveys issued by MedStatix to physicians on the athenahealth network. The research team used Medicaid's work relative value units (RVUs) to measure the productivity of doctors and then examined the doctors' MedStatix patient-survey results.

Researchers discovered that patients seen by busy doctors — those who generated a relatively large number of RVUs every day — were much more likely to report that they weren't satisfied with the amount of time that their doctor spent with them during their visit. But, when patients were asked about overall satisfaction with their providers, the most productive doctors did not receive significantly lower scores. Likewise, patients of the most productive doctors were only one percent more likely to avoid recommending them than patients of less busy providers. 

A couple of explanations might account for these discrepancies, says Josh Gray, vice president of research at athenahealth. “On one hand, maybe patients understand that their providers are busy and don't hold it against them — they ascribe the lack of time to a fundamental problem with healthcare, not a shortcoming of the provider," he says. “Another possibility is that providers have built up enough good will with their patients that the patients are willing to ignore minor problems like not spending enough time."

Gray warned there is one exception: Researchers found that an increase in wait time did correlate with reduced satisfaction. “Wait times are one area where patients don't seem to be very forgiving," he says.

 

 

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No idea who you surveyed to obtain these findings. Quite laughable seeing that I have personally dropped both a PCP and Neurologist for trying to rush the visit. Bad bedside manner leads to terrible management of care in my opinion. If they can't spend a whopping 2 extra minutes speaking with me about my care, how can I expect them to take the extra time to actually submit Rx's or ensure I have everything I need? One more indicator that payers and service providers are clearly oblivious to the care patients actually need and care from.
Name: 
Jordan Jensen
Email: 
jordanstevenjensen@gmail.com
I find that your data pretty accurately reflects my experience of 20 years in primary care. If I am rushed AND a patient has had to wait to see me then they are typically unsatisfied. If I am rushed and see them on time they are much more forgiving especially if I explain the reason. That is why I have always worked extremely hard to see patients on time. I think having a good relationship with your patients helps as well. I've had long time patients comment at times that I seemed like I was in a hurry. When I explained why, they were okay with it. Of course, there are certain times and situations that demand a more prolonged visit. Those cannot be rushed through. I think my long time patients understand that when that need arises I will be there for them. I think something else factors into this equation as well and that is access to care. Chances are, if you are a primary care physician and you are not rushed, then you are probably not providing adequate access to care especially if you are in an underserved area. Volume is a dirty word these day but the simple and unavoidable truth is that volume = access. Patients understand this. If they can never get an appointments AND you rush through their visit then they will be justifiably unsatisfied. If you make them wait an hour for that same appointment then they will be upset. But if they know they can get an appointment when they need it and be seen on time, it is my (20 year) experience that they will cut you some slack.
Name: 
George
Email: 
gtbarron@comporium.net

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Patients are forgiving when doctors rush a visit