How many stars would *you* get?
I’ll never forget the first time I took an Uber. I got a text alert seconds after I got out of the car. “How was your drive? Rate your driver!” How cool is that, I thought – I get to give almost immediate feedback on my experience! But what I didn’t know then, was that my driver was also rating me.
Of course this experience has now made it way to the practice of medicine as well. Not long after an office visit or a hospital stay it’s pretty typical to receive a request to complete some kind of survey. Not as efficient as touching a sliding star scale, but an opportunity to give feedback nonetheless.
But have you ever thought what the response would be if your doctor or hospital could rate you as a patient right after your visit? How many stars would *you* get?
Are we really the worst patients in the world?
I’ve found myself thinking about this a lot lately. An article a few years back in The Atlantic, titled The Worst Patients in the World, is captioned “Americans are hypochondriacs, yet we skip our checkups. We demand drugs we don’t need, and fail to take the ones we do. No wonder the U.S. leads the world in health spending.” This article takes a long look at what it means to be less than a 5 star patient and how it ultimately impacts the cost of our care.
And in this recent blog, written by a family practitioner about the importance of patient’s bedside manners she writes, “What I propose is that turnabout is fair play. If we are grading doctors on Yelp, through Medicare and Medicaid yearly reviews — and this will be a significant basis for reimbursement in the future — let us not forget that the patient has to keep it professional and respectful.” Specifically she writes about patient’s less than civil behavior in the office because their expectations weren’t met 100% (things like having to reschedule because they’re more than 15 minutes late, complaining about not getting the prescription they wanted, or even being inappropriate with the doctor or staff).
As an independent patient advocate, our role is bi-directional. First and most importantly, we amplify our client’s voice and make sure that their concerns and preferences are understood by their care teams. Then we clarify the provider’s instructions so that the effect of following the physician’s plan of care is evident when the physician sees you again. We do all of this courteously, but directly, navigating both your and your doctor’s needs to assure the best care for you. Because we know how the system works, we make sure you’re prepared and supported to be the best patient you can be. In effect, our job is to get you a 5 star rating.
What value does that have? A mutually respectful relationship with your care team. Good, open communication of what works and doesn’t work for you. Clear direction of what your doctor wants for you. The most efficient use of the money and time you spend for your care. And ultimately the best possible health outcome.
Does being a 5 star patient guarantee your doctor will be a 5 star doctor? Absolutely not. But it allows you to be clear about what matters to you, and to change up your team, if that’s what you need. And if that’s the case, a patient advocate can help with that as well.