By Matt Kuhrt
Healthcare providers have increasingly looked to provide more patient-centered care as they seek to improve on quality metrics in advance of value-based payment policies.
Getting an initial read on how well any of this is working requires information from the patients themselves, and the latest patient trend data out of Massachusetts show significant improvement in behavioral health scores and an overall solid rating for doctor-patient communication, according to a report from Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP).
The survey gauges commercially insured patients' opinion of the quality of their interactions with healthcare providers in order to get a sense for their willingness to recommend a provider to their family and friends. For the past two years, the survey has added questions about behavioral health, the importance of which has become more evident as practices have focused more on improving the overall quality of care, particularly for patients with chronic conditions.
A more recent focus on the potential health risk of patient loneliness further underscores the need to inquire about patients' moods, emotional state or possible problems with drugs or alcohol, as FiercePracticeManagement has previously reported. The 2015 Massachusetts results show progress on this measure, with the mean score moving from 53.1 in 2014 to 56.5 in 2015, suggesting continued room for improvement.
For the first time, the 2015 survey asked patients about whether their doctors discussed individual health goals with them, or inquired about issues that might cause patients problems with taking care of their health. The continuing focus on patient engagement as an element of value-based care suggests this number will be worth watching in future years.
The survey results offer both patients and practices an opportunity to see where their interactions work well and where they fall short, areas of mutual value to all stakeholders. "Positive patient experiences are strongly linked to better health outcomes, more appropriate use of healthcare services, lower malpractice risk and better patient retention in practices," said Barbra Rabson, MHQP president and CEO, in an announcement.