GP and specialist consultations: Are doctors driving their patients online?

Data, facts and instruments on the German health system

What it’s all about

A recent study by the Bitkom umbrella organization shows that many patients are specifically looking for explanatory and further information on the Internet after their visits to the doctor. In addition to a fundamentally increased interest in health, medical professionals are responsible for this with patient conversations in Twitter format.

Patients often leave the practices perplexed

The online editions of Ärzte Zeitung of 09.01.2023 reports on a current Bitkom study. In this, the association reports, among other things, that 63% of Internet users research information about their symptoms, diagnosis or prescribed medication online following a visit to the doctor.

In parallel, the results of the IFABS Betriebsvergleich-Tracker© for GP, specialist and dental practice management show that the Adherence Impact Scores (AIS), i.e. patients‘ satisfaction with the design features of their medical consultations in relation to their requirements, are very low (100% = optimal adherence promotion):

  • Information behavior: 27.3 % (type and extent of information provided by physicians)
  • Conduct of conversation: 34.7 % (behavior during conversation)
  • Medication information: 16.8% (education about prescribed medications).

This results in an aggregate total score of 26.2%, equivalent to the finding that primary care physicians and specialists do not meet an average of nearly 74% of the patient requirements for their communicative care.

Focused requirements

In the free texts, the patients express their criticism in an even more differentiated manner. Overall, they are often of the opinion that they

  • were only able to present their concerns inadequately („After the first cue, you’re already interrupted!“),
  • not examined intensively enough („… please more detailed diagnosis of the cause of pain…“) and
  • were not involved enough in the doctor’s considerations („A look into the computer, then the prescription and bye!“).

Doctors without insight

Physicians are always completely surprised by these aspects. Most of them have been conducting their consultations in an unchanged form for years and have never themselves had the impression that they were not meeting their patients‘ requirements. However, hardly any physicians have ever checked the quality of their conversations either.In addition, they state that they neither have the sufficient time nor receive a sufficient fee to be able to go into more detail about discussions. Alternative options such as publishing patient information on clinical pictures on their own website are rarely used. General practitioners and specialists who would like to examine not only the quality of their patient discussions, but also the entire practice management and its effects for previously unused opportunities for improvement, can use the Practice Management Comparison© for this purpose.