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Archive for the ‘medical research’ Category

A title like “Computer bests humans in skin infection diagnosis,” is sure to get my attention.

Can computers beat doctors in actually providing medical care?  A recent study was reported as showing that “a computer program diagnosed a serious skin infection more accurately based on symptoms than emergency room physicians.”

Cellulitis is a deep skin infection that may be erroneously diagnosed in patients who have allergic or irritation reactions in their skin.  Investigators from Rochester, N.Y., and Los Angeles, Calif., evaluated  patients who were hospitalized for cellulitis by emergency room physicians. Dermatologists and infectious disease specialists found that 28 percent of the patients had been misdiagnosed and did not have cellulitis.  The admitting senior residents were asked to make a list of the possible diagnoses of these patients and to input characteristics of the patients’ conditions into a computer program that provided a computer generated list of possible diagnoses.  The investigators found that the computer listed the true diagnosis more often than did the resident physician.

The study does provide some evidence that a computer program may help some non-specialist physicians come up with a more comprehensive list of possible diagnoses than they would on their own.  The authors of the study concluded that the technology “has the potential to direct providers to more accurate diagnoses.”  They didn’t mention that having longer lists of possible diagnoses means that the technology also has the potential to direct providers to more inaccurate diagnoses, too, and that doing so could result in needless testing.

This study relied upon the expert skills of human physicians to make the gold standard judgments about whether patients had cellulitis or not.  While the computer program could help clue some doctors in to possible diagnoses they may not have considered (both accurate and inaccurate possible diagnoses), patients ultimately still depend on the good judgment of their physicians.

At DrScore, we’re excited about using digital technologies to improve medical care.  Giving doctors feedback from patients and making medical care quality more transparent are surefire ways to enhance care. But computers are not beating, besting or replacing doctors just yet.

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Doctor’s Day is March 30. Here’s our latest press release for DrScore.com in recognition of the important role that doctors play in patients’ lives.

 

Patient Satisfaction: DrScore’s Three Simple Solutions for Improving Customer Service

Online physician rating website shares latest research for Doctor’s Day on March 30

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–In recognition of Doctor’s Day on March 30 and the important role that physicians play in patients’ lives, DrScore.com is sharing three simple solutions to improving patient satisfaction. The tips are the result of an analysis of data from 180,000 patient satisfaction surveys on the DrScore.com online doctor rating website.

“It’s a fact: A patient’s health care experience does matter. Patient satisfaction is important in its own right, but it also improves the outcomes of a patient’s care,” said patient satisfaction expert Steve Feldman, M.D., founder of DrScore. “And at DrScore, the online ratings of patient experiences strongly suggest that there are three very important factors that contribute to patient satisfaction.”

1. Keep wait times short. DrScore’s data analysis found that 44 percent of wait times were less than 15 minutes, 34 percent were 15 to 30 minutes, 13 percent were 30 to 60 minutes, and 9 percent were greater than one hour. “There is a strong, statistically significant correlation between wait times and overall patient satisfaction,” Dr. Feldman said. He suggested the following to improve patient satisfaction in this area:

  • If wait times are consistently running longer than 30 minutes, doctors should look into their operations and find out if patients are being scheduled too close together or if there is another operational reason this is happening. “Making the goal 15 minutes or less is even better, particularly for primary care providers,” Dr. Feldman said.
  • Make the waiting room pleasant with plenty of good reading materials, coffee, etc. “Time goes by very slowly in an unpleasant waiting room,” Dr. Feldman said. “The best doctors don’t even call it a waiting room — they call it a reception area and do their best not to keep patients waiting.”

2. Spend enough time with each patient. “Patients tend to feel like 10 minutes or longer is adequate time to spend with the doctor, and the DrScore data shows that two-thirds of visits last this amount of time,” Dr. Feldman said. “We found that 23 percent of visits run five to 10 minutes, and 11 percent run less than five minutes. The statistics are clear: The longer a doctor spends with a patient, the more satisfied the patient tends to be with the visit.”

3. Make sure your demeanor is perceived as being friendly and caring. Patients need to have a sense of feeling cared for. “A caring and friendly attitude is far and away the most important variable that contributes to patient satisfaction,” Dr. Feldman said.

The DrScore researchers performed an analysis to determine the independent contributions of different variables such as age, gender, first or return visit, routine or emergent care, wait time, time with doctor and the doctor’s friendly/caring attitude. Wait time and time with doctor were statistically significant, but their contribution to overall satisfaction was small, each accounting for only about 10 percent of the variance in patient satisfaction. In contrast, the doctor’s friendly/caring attitude was the strongest contributor to patient satisfaction, accounting for more than three-fourths of the variance in patient satisfaction/doctor rating scores.

“Tips 1 and 2 don’t matter nearly as much as Tip 3,” Dr. Feldman said. “Every time, before a doctor walks into the exam room, he or she should pause and think: ‘How am I going to make this patient feel cared for today?’ And ‘how can I make sure they realize I am a friendly, caring doctor?”

About DrScore.com

Founded by Steve Feldman, M.D., DrScore.com is an interactive online survey site where patients can rate their physicians, as well as find a physician based on their service level preference. DrScore’s mission is to improve medical care by giving patients a forum for rating their physicians, and by giving doctors an affordable, objective, non-intrusive means of documenting the quality of care that they provide. For more information, visit www.drscore.com.

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Are obstetricians and gynecologists more friendly and caring than other specialists?.

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Here is the latest press release from DrScore. This paper comparing patient satisfaction among different specialties was published by Dove Medical Press in January.

 

DrScore Researchers Find OB/GYNs Rate Higher than Other Specialists in
Caring and Friendly Attitude

Paper on patient satisfaction published by Dove Medical Press

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Jan. 27, 2011) – Overall patient satisfaction ratings and ratings of doctors’ caring and friendly attitude are higher for obstetricians and gynecologists compared to other specialists, according to researchers at DrScore.com. The paper, Patient Satisfaction with Obstetricians and Gynecologists Compared with Other Specialties: Analysis of US Self-Reported Survey Data, (Isha Patel, Jongwha Chang, Jatin Srivastava, et al) was published in the journal Patient Related Outcome Measures by Dove Medical Press in January.

 

“There have been very few studies in the United States evaluating patient satisfaction across different specialties,” said patient satisfaction expert Steve Feldman, M.D., the founder of the online doctor review site DrScore.com. “Our research team wanted to see whether certain specialties had higher levels of patient satisfaction, and they found that obstetricians and gynecologists were 55 percent more likely to earn a high patient satisfaction rating and three times more likely to earn a good rating in caring and friendly attitude.”

 

The researchers utilized data from a national, validated, Web-based survey among 7,938 anonymous patients who rated their physicians according to satisfaction with treatment on the basis of their experience during their most recent outpatient visits. Patients rated physicians on a scale of 0 (not at all satisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied). According to the study, when asked to rate their satisfaction with the physician’s caring and friendly attitude, the average rating for obstetricians and gynecologists was 6.65 and 5.86 for other specialists. Other key contributors to overall patient satisfaction include wait time and time spent with the doctor. Overall, patients waited a significantly shorter time for obstetricians and gynecologists (average 26.8 minutes) vs. other specialists (average 29.1 minutes). Patients also reported spending more time with their obstetricians and gynecologists (9.5 minutes) vs. other specialists (8.8 minutes).

 

The researchers concluded that patient satisfaction ratings associated with caring and friendly attitude were higher for obstetricians and gynecologists compared to other specialists and that doctors’ caring and friendly attitude plays a key role in patients’ satisfaction.

 

“Even though several factors influence patient satisfaction, adoption of factors like reducing waiting times, effective patient–physician communication and involving patients in the decision-making process should aid physicians in achieving optimal patient satisfaction results,” said Dr. Feldman. “The development of online doctor rating websites with a national scope has opened new vistas on the quality of health care delivery, offering researchers new ways to probe patient satisfaction and to identify new ways to enhance the medical care experience.”

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Highlights from the DrScore’s 2010 Annual Report Card on Patient Satisfaction.

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2010 Annual Report Card Highlights

The 2010 Annual Report Card is based on 54,191 patient ratings collected at DrScore.com, the online patient satisfaction survey site, during the year 2010. The results provide insight into the strengths and weaknesses of doctors in meeting the needs of their patients.

  • The average rating for all physicians is 7.1 out of 10, a slight decrease from the average rating in 2009 of 7.4, but still indicating an overall high level of patient satisfaction.
  • More than 66 percent of all physician ratings were 9.0 or higher, and 58 percent of all ratings were a perfect 10.
  • The average rating for physicians with 20 or more patient ratings is 9.1 out of 10, which is a slight increase over 2009’s average rating of 8.9.
  • Across the board of patient ratings, patients gave physicians more high scores in 2010 when compared to 2009 both overall and on all aspects of treatment.  Physicians with more ratings had higher average scores.  The subscores that increased from 2009 to 2010 included waiting time, doctor’s friendly/caring attitude, time spent with the doctor, following up on test results and treatment success.
  • Wait time continues to be an important driver of patient satisfaction. This year’s survey found that patients 65 and older have become less tolerant of longer wait times.  In comparing ratings for patients who waited an hour or more with those who waited 15 minutes or less, DrScore found;
  1. Ages 65 and over experienced a 37 percent drop (8.8 to 5.5), a significant difference compared to 2009’s 27 percent decrease
  2. Ages 35 to 64 had a 31 percent drop (8.3 to 5.7), close to 2009’s 32 percent decrease
  3. Ages 34 and under experienced a 40 percent drop (8.3 to 5.1), slightly higher than 2009’s 37 percent decrease.

 

  • There were little differences in patient satisfaction between men and women. In general, men tended to rank treatment success and treatment follow-up higher than other aspects, while women ranked thoroughness and friendliness higher.

 

  • In general, patients rated doctors higher on overall communications in 2010.  Close to 60 percent of the patients who completed the survey gave their doctors a perfect 10 for
  1. How well the doctor answered patient questions (61 percent)
  2. The extent to which the doctor included the patients in decisions about care and treatment (59 percent)
  3. Instructions on how to take care of the patient’s illness or health condition (59 percent)
  4. Thoroughness of exam at check-up (58 percent)

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Research from DrScore demonstrates that physicians with more reviews have significantly higher ratings.

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