Mastering the medical mindshift: Why a quality of care assessment is preferable to patient surveys

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it’s all about

The „classic“ patient survey is not able to provide teams in GP and specialist practices with realistic insights into the satisfaction of their practice visitors. Only an assessment of practice performance with eight building blocks, which can be carried out just as easily, provides the insights needed.

Half-hearted projects

Currently, two-thirds of all doctors in private practice have already conducted a patient survey. This does not mean, however, that the surveys have substantially improved the quality of service provided by the practices, since the wrong survey and evaluation method minimise the reality bias.

Cave school grade scale!

From a methodological point of view, most surveys could not even do that because they work with the school grade scale. Their advantage is the high level of familiarity and acceptance among patients as well as the simple and quick evaluability. On the other hand, however, they have only a low differentiating significance and are not suitable for an adequate depiction of the reality of satisfaction.

With eight building blocks from practice analysis to professional assessment

In order to be able to use patient surveys operationally and strategically as meaningful assessments, the following eight building blocks are needed:

(1) A survey technique that makes it possible to determine Patient Care Quality Scores (PCQS).

This indicator, also called key performance indicator (KPI), is formed by combining the information on the importance of the examined performance characteristics with satisfaction. Only with its help can the results be classified and prioritised according to their need for action, an option that helps practice teams to focus their scarce resources on what is really important.

(2) Differentiating the PCQS according to the practice’s core target groups

Different target groups also have different requirements for practice performance, which are not apparent in an undifferentiated analysis. It is therefore essential to analyse surveys separately according to the patient groups that are most important for the practice’s work.

(3) Determining the willingness to recommend.

It is an indispensable strategic indicator that describes the patients‘ willingness to act, which results from their satisfaction, because in many cases patients are satisfied with the practice’s performance, but they also see deficits that they personally do not want to pay further attention to, but do not want to impose on others, primarily when they make a personal recommendation.

(4) Determining the Patient Experience

This describes the overall experience of the patients, which results from their experiences at the individual service sections („touchpoints“) of the practice work – from making the appointment to saying goodbye. The more positive-homogeneous this experience is, the more intensive is patient loyalty and image-building.

(5) A comparison with practices in the same specialist group

With the help of such a comparison of operations, the determined patient data can be „grounded“ and objectified by comparing it with the status of the speciality.

(6) Benchmarking to the best practice standard

If the comparison of operations reflects the performance status of the specialist group as a minimum requirement, best practice benchmarking – whether determined in the form of patient requirements or the possible measurable optimum – represents the maximum option. „Good“ satisfaction scores are always within this corridor.

(7) A Satisfactoriness Benchmarking of Free Text Statements

In this procedure, the patient statements on the practice strengths/weaknesses are compared via their frequency of mention with the results of comparable practices. This makes it possible to determine how pronounced the items mentioned really are.

(8) A monitoring of the satisfaction trend over several analysis points in time

If patient surveys are carried out continuously and changes over time are also examined, this establishes a professional satisfaction management. This also makes it possible to formulate and monitor satisfaction goals, e.g. in the form of PCQS values to be aimed for, which control the work of the practice.

Further information and support on the topic

All the modules mentioned are included in the analysis package Valetudo Check-up© „Patient Satisfaction in Medical Practice „.

All information at a glance (German)…