The holidays are upon us and as many people celebrate their families and loved ones, my mind is clouded by patient surveys. I received a phone call from an administrator that I am on a s@#% list for my patient satisfaction in 2015. I work in the ER and I work my tail end off to help manage and treat extremely (and some, not so much) ill patients. I leave my kids and my husband, and go to a stressful environment that has many sad endings. And now I have to deal with the fact that my patients don’t like me. At least that was what I originally thought as I listened to the person on the other end of the conversation.
After my initial shock, I started to try and piece together what these surveys meant. Maybe some of you have also experienced “constructive criticism” about your patient interactions. If you are a good PA, most likely you will take this to heart. You will look at your practice style and see where you fall short and how you are missing connections with your patients. After digging a little bit I learned that over the last year, fewer than 10 people returned surveys regarding my care. Half of them gave me the top scores possible (yay!). The other half gave me less than perfect scores. You can do the math. I was a little stunned that I would be receiving a call for those four patients that did not feel that I gave them the best care. I am still waiting to hear about what aspects of my care they felt were substandard.
This is concerning to me. Not that we give patients a chance to give us feedback. That is wonderful and I believe it keeps providers and hospital staff accountable for how they are treating patients. My concern is having these surveys tied to reimbursement. We are educated medical professionals who should be practicing evidence-based medicine. If we are constantly striving to get a gold star in order to be paid, what kind of medicine will we practice? I can see patient satisfaction being tied to yearly reviews by our employers, but not on how we are reimbursed by Medicare. Although this has not yet come to fruition, I think the PA community should take a stance on this issue. I plan on trying to learn as much as I can from my own patient satisfaction surveys, but you will not find me prescribing unnecessary or harmful treatments in order to be more popular.
This issue that will not be solved overnight, however. So for now I will return to my friends and family and embrace the good things in my life. But I do believe this is an issue we as PAs need to come together on in 2016.
Wishing all my readers a happy holidays!