As the impact of patient satisfaction scores has increased in recent years, so has the importance of correctly calculating and acting on them. Physicians can help their organizations avoid unintended consequences and generate the most benefit from patient satisfaction scores by asking them to do the following:
1. Aggregate data from all providers to get adequate samples so that meaningful changes can be made, if necessary. Identify the processes that are causing issues, perform interventions, and see whether the interventions work.
2. Do not present satisfaction scores without including statistical information on the margin of error and analysis of means (i.e., how significantly the scores for an individual or group differ from the overall average score).
3. Given the difficulties and expense in making sure satisfaction scoring methods are fair, do not reward or penalize physicians based solely on scores. Physicians should not practice medicine based on poor data, and their salaries should not be determined by it.
4. Examine the patient satisfaction scores that fall well below a random distribution. Odds are that physicians scoring that low are suffering from burnout or other special circumstances that need attention.
5. Study quality improvement and statistical variation. In most organizations, 85 percent of all outcomes are related to process, and only 15 percent are related to people. Instead of trying to find better methods for scraping burnt toast, learn to fix the toaster.
Read the full FPM article: “The Problem With Patient Satisfaction Scores.”
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