Thursday, 21 October 2010

I can't get no .... satisfaction

Two publications caught my eye this weekend; Keith Richard’s autobiography of The Rolling Stones and “Real Time Patient Feedback” best practice guide from the Practice Management Network. From the serialisation in The Times, the former sounds like a fascinating glimpse into the inner dynamics of one of the most successful rock and roll bands ever, no doubt it will lead to new management books on team works. The latter has been developed in 22 GP practices in England and collects the learning from practice managers and GPs on how to get the most out of real time patient feedback. It has been developed in primary care but has some messages for secondary care. It sets out to help the clinical teams consider what you want to find out from your patients; and the best way to carry out the feedback process. It doesn’t set out a best method but would help you in choosing survey methods, gathering information for improvement and how to use real time feedback to add value to the clinical exchange between patients and healthcare staff.

The British Medical Journal also had an article and an editorial on measures of patient satisfaction and found that asking about patient experience was more discriminatory than patient satisfaction scores. Listen to your patients. High satisfaction scores only indicate that care is adequate, we should concentrate on the low ratings not the average because dissatisfaction, or would Mick Jagger call that no satisfaction, indicates problems that should be addressed.

They concluded that although it is difficult to measure patients’ perceptions of healthcare, it is most appropriate that patients should assess the inter-personal dimension of quality of care because they are the ones to whom we are all ultimately accountable. It is therefore crucial that patient surveys are refined to maximise precision and minimise bias. The research community needs to develop and refine robust and comparable measures of this important aspect of quality of care.