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From the HealthStream Engagement Institute
blog post 9.21.15

What Creates a Great Patient Experience for Physician Practices?

The CG-CAHPS survey captures the essence of the patient experience in four key areas.

  • Access (Service). Access is tied directly to the service a physician practice provides. How convenient is it for a patient to access the provider to make an appointment, ask questions, request refills and receive information back and forth from the physician? For example, if a patient wakes up in the morning with a migraine, can he or she get an appointment that day when he or she needs it? Is staff courteous and respectful when patients interact with them? Access also includes the ease with which a patient can get information about the physician, such as through the practice website.

     

    Access:  Questions from the CG-CAHPS Survey:

    • In the last 12 months, when you phoned this provider’s office to get an appointment for care you needed right away, how often did you get an appointment as soon as you needed?
    • In the last 12 months, when you made an appointment for a check-up or routine care with this provider, how often did you get an appointment as soon as you needed?
    • In the last 12 months, when you phoned this provider’s office during regular office hours, how often did you get an answer to your medical question that same day?
    • In the last 12 months, how often did you see this provider within 15 minutes of your appointment time?
    • During your most recent visit, did you see this provider within 15 minutes of your appointment time?
    • During your most recent visit, did this provider spend enough time with you?

       

  • Tone (Culture and People). The culture and the people in the physician practice setting set the tone for the overall atmosphere and the entire patient experience. Tone includes how well the practice staff and physicians show care and compassion for patients when it comes to the full cycle of receiving, referring, and interacting with patients. Sometimes the tone can be very subtle. For example, merely saying “Hi” when the patient checks in may not set the right tone. Instead, when a staff member greets a patient, the employee should acknowledge the patient by name, if known, or if not the staff member should properly introduce himself (or herself) to make each person feel like a valued customer.

     

    Tone:  Questions from the CG-CAHPS Survey:

    • During your most recent visit, did this provider listen carefully to you?
    • During this most recent visit, did this provider show respect for what you had to say?
    • During your most recent visit, were clerks and receptionists at this provider’s office as helpful as you thought they should be?
    • During your most recent visit, did clerks and receptionists at this provider’s office treat you with courtesy and respect?

       

  • Explanation (Quality, Compliance, Safety, Outcomes). Explanation means providing quality care and ensuring patient compliance. A well-tuned practice partners with patients to help them understand and participate in their care. This includes physicians and practice staff who are helping patients navigate what is happening regarding their care, including explaining the person’s diagnosis or next steps to determine the diagnosis, and a general care plan. When patients understand information they are given about their condition or their care plan, they are more likely to be compliant, which can result in better outcomes and fewer unnecessary hospitalizations.

     

    Explanation:  Questions from the CG-CAHPS Survey:

    • During your most recent visit, did this provider explain things in a way that was easy to understand?
    • During your most recent visit, did this provider give you easy to understand information about these health questions or concerns?
    • During your most recent visit, did this provider seem to know the important information about your medical history?

       

  • Follow up (Service, Quality, Safety). Proper follow up is about how well physician practices take ownership of all of the patient’s care, including following preemptive steps to close the care loop when the patient leaves the practice. Patients depend on their physicians to manage the flow of information in and out of the practice. This includes returning phone calls in a timely manner and following up with information about appointments, test results, medications, and prescription refills. Patient handoffs for referrals, procedures, and tests are critical. The practice must pass on and receive the right information back to help the patient transition along the care continuum. Most importantly, follow up is about raising the level of empathy for the patient and understanding, for example, what it is like to wait for an extended period of time for labs or test results that could determine whether or not the person has a serious disease.

     

    Follow up:  Questions from the CG-CAHPS Survey:

    • Did someone from this provider’s office follow up to give you those results?

 


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