Dr. Mascarenhas has found that, at times, questions uncover problematic areas that may have otherwise been unknown. “In one of our clinic locations, we discovered that patients were having difficulty finding the clinic suite despite posted signs,” she says. “Now, whenever possible, we have staff near the elevators directing them to the office.”
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Explore This IssueOctober 2016
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Jonathan M. Greer, MD, FACR, FACP, president, Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates of Palm Beach, and affiliate clinical professor of medicine, Nova Southeastern University, Boynton Beach, Fla., says the following are among the most important questions: Did your doctor explain the side effects of medications to you, how they work and how to take them? Are you happy with your medications?
“By identifying problems in these areas, we found that it was necessary to call patients to address these issues,” says Dr. Greer, who adds that the surveys helped improve patient encounters. Last year, the practice used surveys created by the American Board of Internal Medicine; now it’s devising its own surveys.
Dr. Greer prefers opened-ended questions over multiple choice. Surveys include blank areas to allow patients to write concerns.
As a hospital-based facility, the Institute for Rheumatic & Autoimmune Diseases at Overlook Medical Center in Summit, N.J., uses standard Press-Ganey scores that are commonly employed by large healthcare facilities, says Elliot Rosenstein, MD, FACR, FACP, director. Survey questions should address general satisfaction, information sharing, empathy with the patient, technical competency (i.e., physical examination, procedures), a respectful attitude to the patient, accessibility and continuity. Some of the most helpful questions are:
- How satisfied are you with your current regimen?
- How convenient is your treatment?
- How effective is your treatment?
- Does your treatment incur any hardship—economic or physical?
But satisfaction scores are meaningless unless there is a process in place to review and remediate them, Dr. Rosenstein says. Feedback must be provided to the appropriate, involved parties for favorable changes to occur. Making changes requires physicians and staff to make a coordinated effort.