Doctors, nurses out of touch with patient expectations

With patient satisfaction becoming increasingly important in healthcare, a new study published in the British Medical Journal: Quality and Safety suggests that providers may not be tapped into patients' wants or needs. Although most clinicians (89.4 percent) say it's important to ask patients about their expectations, most don't ask patients what they are and thus don't respond to patients' expectations adequately, according to a new international survey conducted by Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Only 16.1 percent of clinicians reported asking patients about their expectations.

"This discrepancy appears to uncover a blind spot in clinicians' approach when attempting to address patient expectations and improve patient satisfaction," said lead study author Ronen Rozenblum, a researcher at Brigham and Women's Department of Medicine, in a press release yesterday.

In fact, nine out of 10 clinicians (physicians and nurses) said they felt they didn't quite know what their patients expected, stating that their awareness of patient expectations were inadequate, according to the survey of more than 1,000 clinicians in Denmark, the United States, Israel, and the U.K.

Even more, less than a fifth (19.6 percent) of clinicians felt they had adequate training to handle patients' expectations, and only 6.9 percent reported that their department had a structured plan to address patient expectations.

"These data suggest that healthcare organizations should take a more active role in increasing clinicians' awareness. Conducting training to cope with patient expectations and initiating structured programs for addressing patient expectations might in turn improve outcomes," concluded Dr. David Bates, senior vice president for quality and safety at Brigham and Women's and senior author on the study.

Healthcare organizations might consider implementing leadership rounding to gauge patient needs or conduct regular quality meetings to address the patient experience, according to experts in FierceHealthcare's special report on ways to improve the patient experience.

"Patient and visitor needs, while in the hospital, are fairly consistent and thus some best practices in the realm of patient experience are essential," Laura E. Hamblin, a hospital patient experience manager, told FierceHealthcare.

For more information:
- read the press release
- check out the FierceHealthcare special report

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