How Duke Health improved patient satisfaction with a 1-page form

A mature woman physician consulting with a patient in the doctor's office.
Duke Health developed a one-page form to get feedback from patients at doctor visists. (Getty/Ridofranz)

A simple one-page survey developed by Duke Health has helped improve patient satisfaction with doctor visits.

The form, given to patients ahead of their doctor visit, asks them to list three concerns they want to discuss with their physician and asks them for feedback at the conclusion of the visit.

The form, tested with over 14,000 patients seen by a dozen doctors at the Duke Spine Center outpatient practice, improved patient satisfaction with the care they received, according to a study published in Neurosurgery.

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The survey improved communication between doctors and patients and also allowed for real-time feedback. At the end of the visit, the survey asks patients if all their questions were addressed and if they were satisfied, giving doctors immediate feedback on how well they addressed patients’ needs. The form also includes an open-ended question that asks how the clinic could better support patient care.

“National surveys show that up to half of all patients leave the clinic visit with an unvoiced need,” lead author Oren Gottfried, M.D., clinical vice chair for quality in the Department of Neurosurgery at Duke University School of Medicine, said in a statement.  

More than 14,600 patients were included in the study and completed the form 96% of the time.

If a patient responded that were not satisfied with their visit or that all their questions were not answered, physicians followed-up, either returning to the exam room or calling the patient within 24 hours.

Doctors who participated in the study found the one-page tool and its immediate patient feedback loop superior to the government’s patient satisfaction tool known as the Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS).

Duke Health is not alone in seeking to improve the patient experience during office visits. Hawaii Pacific Health, a nonprofit network of hospitals, clinics, physicians and care providers, saw its overall performance on physician communication scores on patient surveys improve dramatically after it used a checklist and a coaching program to improve some doctors’ communication skills.