Using Qualitative (Focus Group) Research to Provide Clear Direction for Improving the Patient/Physician Experience

In previous blogs we have commented on our statistical approaches to using the structured data from different CAHPS® surveys to give clear guidance to physicians for improving the experience and satisfaction of their patients.

Normally, we provide importance/performance matrices which plot the importance to patients and the relative performance of the physician/medical group/clinic on each item.  This approach points to specific things that need attention.  For example, if a particular item is highly important to patients and the particular physician or medical group or clinic is doing poorly in that area then that represents an area where improvement can have a high positive impact on the patient experience.

For example, in various studies, showing respect to the patient is important and physicians often don’t do well in that area.  If you want to improve performance in that area then the obvious question is how does a physician convey respect to patients?  To provide this level of guidance DSS conducts focus groups, using the quantitative results to give our clients more tailored guidance in the various targeted improvement areas.  Taking the “respect” issue, for example, some of the generalized results from one of our focus groups are discussed below.

Patients know their physician is listening to them through eye contact, tone of voice, paying attention, asking questions and answering their questions.  Listening carefully vs. showing respect – they basically overlap and go hand-in-hand and most agree that listening is a key component of showing respect.  Patients would like to have a say in their care.  It should be a two-way conversation, not a one-sided lecture.

Selected patient comments:

  • He has always given me respect. We talk as friends. Although he is the expert, he still carefully listens to my thoughts and suggestions. If I ask him something that he is not completely “up” on, he actually takes the time to research the subject and discusses it with me on our next visit.
  • It is much more than showing a simple concern for a particular ailment. My doctor makes sure that, not only is the specific ailment tended to, but that anything else that could be affected is tended to as well. Not just a simple cure, but an improvement to my quality of life. I think your term is just another way of defining caring.
  • He always listens to me and tries to answer any questions or concerns I may have. He has a very good bedside manner.
  • Listening carefully IS showing respect.
  • Definitely, listening carefully is part of respect and good communication.
  • These are all aspects of caring and serving the needs of consumers. There are entirely too many ways in which a medical consumer can be treated like a number – part of a herd. There is nothing more personal than touching another person’s body. Something this personal must be done in a caring and humane manner. I consider “listening carefully” and “showing respect” to be minimum expectations. If they are not met, I demand them. If my demands are ignored, I will take my business elsewhere.
  • Listening carefully is a sign of respect. But even if your doctor listens carefully to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean they show respect for you or what you have to say. Some doctors are great at listening but they pass off your questions as obvious or silly. A doctor should show respect to their patients always and even if they think a specific concern or question is silly, they should never say so or act like it is.
  • Yeah, I’d say listening carefully is definitely a part of showing respect. Because the opposite, not listening, would be very disrespectful.
  • Listening is part of showing respect. But it also entails how they respond to you.
  • By greeting the patient, showing concern, going over the last visit and discussing improvement actions.
  • You talk, he listens. He asks for your thoughts and opinions and he takes them into consideration. If he doesn’t agree or has a different opinion, he explains why. He doesn’t just rush through everything, looking at his watch every two minutes.
  • By showing respect they are listening to you and not lecturing, give you the options for your care and ask what one you think would be best and then he tells you what he would do.
  • Spend the appropriate amount of time explaining conditions and treatments and allowing for questions and answer time. Not be in a hurry to get out of the room.

 

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