Dialog Box


Patient Satisfaction Hinges on Shared Decision-Making, Communication

28 May 2019 at 11:25 AM

Shared decision-making will be the key to improving patient satisfaction, as more patients continue to aim for a equal partnership between themselves and their providers during care encounters, according to a new Software Advice survey.

The survey, which included response from 500 patients, explored the topic of patient satisfaction and which factors can help and hurt providers creating a positive patient experience.

On the whole, shared decision-making came through as a top patient preference in a healthcare encounter.

Shared decision-making is the practice of providers educating patients about their conditions, outlining possible treatment options and outcomes, and considering patient lifestyle preferences before coming to a decision about care. Shared decision-making requires extensive patient education and communication.

In total, 97 percent of patient respondents said they wanted this type of relationship with their providers. Two-thirds of patients said they wanted shared decision-making to result in an equal partnership between themselves and their providers, with providers taking into consideration the needs and viewpoints of patients.

Only 26 percent of respondents said they wanted a provider-led healthcare interaction and only 8 percent said they’d prefer to make their own healthcare decisions independently.

But although patients are partial to shared decision-making, the researchers found that few patients are actually seeing that practice used in the clinic office.

Fifty-two percent of patients said they have never discussed shared decision-making with their providers, while 18 percent said they weren’t sure. Only 30 percent of respondents said their providers explained shared decision-making during an encounter.

Nonetheless, shared decision-making does represent an ideal patient-provider interaction, some industry stakeholder have suggested. Shared decision-making fully engages the patient, ensures care plans align with patient lifestyle needs and preferences, and can ultimately lead to a more adherent patient.

Why, then, have few patients experienced shared decision-making in the doctor’s office?

Time constraints may be the main culprit here, keeping providers with tight schedules from taking the extra few minutes required to discuss care plans with patients. Engaging in shared decision-making does take extra time – Software Advice suggested about five minutes – and takes a lot of practice for providers who aren’t accustomed to chatting with their patients about various care options.

Breaking down shared decision-making into bite-sized steps is a key strategy for employing the technique, experts say. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), providers can adhere to the following steps to develop their shared decision-making technique:

  • Seek your patient’s participation
  • Help your patient explore and compare treatment options
  • Assess your patient’s values and preferences
  • Reach a decision with your patient
  • Evaluate your patient’s decision

Providers can overcome time constraints by leaning on team-based care and nurse communication, which will help drive patient education. Additionally, providers can use prescribed education, meaning patients must review certain information prior to the care encounter. This is especially useful for patients with planned appointments or procedures on the horizon.

The survey continued by asking patients about provider behaviors that detracted from their satisfaction, with the results bringing little surprise. Providers that did not listen to their patients or made patients feel belittled tended to yield lower patient satisfaction, the survey showed.

A quarter of respondents said that feeling rushed during a consultation was a dissatisfier. Long wait times (16 percent), poor explanation of health concepts (15 percent), interrupting patients while speaking (12 percent), and paying more attention to the computer than the patient were also notable dissatisfiers.

Creating a positive patient experience that engages the patient and integrates her as a part of the care team has become increasingly important. As consumerism continues to reign over healthcare, it will be important for organizations to offer services and experiences that meet patient needs.

At the same time, organizations contracting in value-based care design must ensure the health and wellness of their patients. Partnering with patients inside and outside of the clinic may ensure better treatment adherence, ultimately helping providers deliver on value-based care goals.


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