Practice management company comparisons show blind spots in doctors‘ and medical assistants‘ self-assessment of quality of care

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it’s all about

Practice owners and medical assistants in GP and specialist practices overestimate the quality of care they provide by an average of 30%.

PCQS and ePCQS in comparison

The Practice Management Comparison© is a validated method to qualitatively describe, measure, analyse, control and prospectively develop the performance of the management of a GP or specialist practice and its effects. One of the key performance indicators (KPI) determined by this system is the Patient Care Quality Score (PCQS). It defines the perceived quality of care from the percentage ratio of patient satisfaction achieved through the work of the practice teams to the requirements of the practice visitors.

In parallel, practice owners and medical assistants are asked for their assessment of how distinctly they believe they meet the patient requirements with their work input (Estimated Patient Care Quality Score, ePCQS).

A clear result

A representative cross-sectional analysis of the company comparison results shows: if practice owners and medical assistants estimate their quality of care with an average value of 89%, the reality is only 57% on average.

The result makes it clear that the mindset established in many medical practices: „We know our patients“, does not apply in its unqualified form.

The unpleasant consequences

The distorted image of one’s own performance leads to „blind spots“ for doctors and medical assistants and to a situation in which the practice’s activities are partially misdirected, both strategically and operationally, because

  • mistakes are overlooked
  • Criticism loses its relevance for action
  • Priorities and resources are set and used incorrectly
  • Warning signals remain unrecognised
  • Changes and trends are not identifiable.

All in all, an atmosphere of carelessness and inattention is created, from which an operational strategic instability imperceptibly develops. This is so dramatic because, as a result of social change, the demands as well as the satisfaction criteria of patients are changing at an ever faster rate.

The reasons for the overestimation

One of the reasons for the overestimation lies in the dominance of the „gut feeling“ as well as in the low significance of patient surveys and their results, which – if they are negative – are gladly declared as individual cases. Behind this is a practice culture that is strongly oriented towards the search for responsibilities and the punishment instead of the elimination of errors. This low intensity of use of surveys leads to doctors and staff forming their own subjective and unfortunately false picture of the satisfaction reality. It is not recognised that professionally implemented patient surveys provide the findings of „small practice analyses“.If analyses are carried out, the wrong methodology is often used, so that the patient satisfaction reality is not adequately determined. Especially the use of school grade scaling provides results that are far too positive and mislead practice teams.Moreover, medical practices are „emotional deserts“, as doctors act as praise-muffleers and blame-wasters. Positive signals from patients are perceived by female staff as Facebook likes, because they secure their „emotional survival“ through this. At the same time, they block out everything unpleasant and in this way, too, a completely false impression of patient satisfaction is created.

More information on the Practice Management Comparison© (German)…