Patient trust, perception of teamwork drives practice loyalty

If you conduct regular patient surveys--as experts recommend--one of the most important metrics to watch is patients' likelihood of recommending your practice to others.

Their likelihood to recommend healthcare providers is more than an expression of satisfaction with their care, but taps into their more holistic experience, according to a new research note from Press Ganey. "This variable reflects the extent to which providers have met patients' needs--including their need for peace of mind resulting from compassionate and coordinated care and optimal clinical outcomes," wrote the authors.

The firm's analysis of data from 937,000 patients reveals that 15.7 percent of patients overall were "not very likely" to recommend their physician or their medical practice to others. Similar to last year's report, a patient's confidence in his or her clinician emerged as the most important variable driving this measure of patient loyalty.

The second-biggest factor influencing patients to recommend practices, according to the most recent analysis, is their perception that the care team worked well together. In third place was patients' perception that caregivers had concern for their worries. Poor scores on the last two factors, however, negatively affected patients' likelihood to recommend practices even when clinician confidence was high.

Among other recommendations, Press Ganey authors urged healthcare organizations to commit to measuring their success in meeting patient needs through surveys as well as being accountable to the results.

A recent article from MedPage Today echoes this advice and addresses common practice objections to surveys. Medical offices may be reluctant, for example, to take on the expense of hiring a company or taking the time to conduct a formal survey and interpret the results, noted Stephanie Cuomo, R.N., a senior risk management and patient safety specialist at the Cooperative of American Physicians Inc. "The reality is, though, the cost of an independently produced and analyzed survey is very minor when compared to the potential gains," she wrote.

To learn more:
- read the research note
- see the article