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UC Davis recently published a study that found denying patient requests can lead to lower physician ratings. This can be crucial given the nature of the industry and the importance of patient satisfaction. Some employers even adjust physician compensation based on their patient’s satisfaction.
The study involved over 1,100 patients with a total of about 1,700 specific requests and lasted over the course of 1 year. When patient requests were denied, the study found that patient-satisfaction dropped 10-20%. This could significantly affect a physician’s practice, compensation and referral rate, costing physicians significant money.
What’s the solution? We know physicians can’t simply give in to patient requests. And with the technological advances of today and the ability for patients to research symptoms on the internet, we know these requests will continue to rise. These requests could be for pain medication, extra tests, referrals to specialists, etc. Sometimes the requests are simply unreasonable and unnecessary; sometimes the requests, if fulfilled, could actually harm the patient.
UC Davis is continuing this study to determine how to combat this issue and will specifically study whether physician training will help. The idea is to specifically train physicians on how to manage these requests. This would include communication to manage patient expectations. It also includes, and based on previous studies would likely be successful, a strategy called watchful waiting. This means not immediately denying the request but also not fulfilling the request immediately. Take some time to watch the patient and then revisit the request. The hope is that this training will allow physicians to balance their responsibilities as good healthcare providers, patient needs and efficiency of office time and resources.
Keep an eye on the studies at UC Davis as they delve deeper into how physicians can recognize and address this problem.
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