Winston-Salem, NC – February 6, 2012 – Doctors are doing better across the board in 2011, as compared to 2010, according to DrScore’s 2011 Annual Report Card on Patient Satisfaction. DrScore researchers found that overall doctor ratings have increased .5 percent and low ratings of doctors decreased by over 2 percent since 2010, based on over 36,000 ratings received in 2011.
“In 2010, the average score received by a doctor was 7.07,” said Dr. Steven R. Feldman, founder and CEO of DrScore, and a leading patient satisfaction advocate. “That number rose half a percent in 2011 to 7.12. And for doctors with 10 or more ratings, 62 percent of those ratings were a perfect 10, an increase of 2 percent since 2010, lending to the statement that doctors continue to excel in the care they provide.”
As seen in previous years, the strongest factor related to a high patient satisfaction rating was a long visit with the doctor, even in instances when the wait time was one hour or more. According to DrScore, patients expect a visit of at least 10 minutes. For visits more than 10 minutes, the mean doctor rating was 9.2. For visits of 5 to 10 minutes, the mean rating was 6.7. But for visits of less than 5 minutes, the mean doctor rating was an abysmal 2.7.
Keeping patients waiting also hurts patient satisfaction. Patients who waited less than 15 minutes reported a mean doctor rating of 9.2. This number dropped to 8.0 for waits of 15 to 20 minutes, 5.7 for waits of 30 to 60 minutes, and just 3.5 for waits of more than an hour.
But shortening the amount of time a patient spends with his or her doctor is far worse than keeping a patient waiting. Doctor visits of 5 minutes or less were much more detrimental to patient satisfaction than waits of one hour or more.
Doctors who are able to create the perfect mix of short wait times and long visits are rewarded by their patients with very high scores. There were 12,800 visits that had waits of less than 15 minutes and visits with the doctor of at least 10 minutes. The mean doctor rating for these visits was 9.6. In contrast, for the 2.4% of visits with long waits (over an hour) and short visits with the doctor (less than 5 minutes), the mean doctor rating was just 1.1.
“Patients understand that sometimes they will have to wait to see their doctor,” said Feldman. “But it’s important that doctors do not sacrifice the time they actually spend with their patients to minimize wait times. The amount of time spent with your patient directly relates to how your patient perceives you.”
Feldman points out that doctors may choose to take a few minutes between patient visits to walk through their busy waiting rooms. “Take five minutes to speak to all your patients who are waiting for you,” Feldman said. “Let them know you care; those five minutes will pay off more than any other five minutes of your day.”
Nearly 40 percent of patients who shared information about their visits provided constructive criticism about how their visits could have been better. The majority of this feedback fell into the area of doctor communication (47 percent) and staff and waiting times (33 percent each), emphasizing that medical care is a personal interaction.
“Among the issues that could have been better about the doctor’s care, the most common were related to communication,” Feldman said. “Top concerns were answering questions, time addressing the patient’s concerns, not enough time spent with the patient and not enough time spent on the patient’s emotional well being.”
DrScore uses a scientifically-validated online survey to capture core components of a patient’s visit with a doctor. Patients share the full spectrum of their experience with their doctor in the short and easy-to-complete survey. Medical practices throughout the country, including Tenet Healthcare, Oregon Medical Group and Crystal Run Healthcare, utilize DrScore’s survey data to help them drive patient excellence initiatives at their practices and offices.