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Do after-visit surveys help the doctor-patient relationship?

Do after-visit surveys help the doctor-patient relationship?

Despite their widespread use, a recent Baylor University study questions their effectiveness.

It’s a chance for patients to critique their doctors.

The information, collected through patient surveys, is commonly used by hospitals and medical clinics to rate the performance of both physicians and the organization.

Some patients relish the opportunity.

There are the thumbs up reviews — “the doctor is warm and empathetic, in addition to being highly knowledgeable,” wrote one Everett Clinic patient.

Others are more akin to a blunt Rotten Tomatoes movie review: “I am losing confidence in her abilities to maintain timely appointments,” another commented.

Yet patients are surveyed so often on their experience during medical appointments, it’s sometimes hard not to wonder: Does anyone really read these things? Does what I say really matter?

“I tell patients, ‘If you fill one out for us, my commitment is I’ll read it,’ ” said Erin Miller, a regional manager for Providence Health & Services.

One reason health-care organizations do pay attention: The difference between getting “good” and “very good” ratings can be the difference in whether patients return for more appointments and whether they recommend a specific doctor or the medical organization to others, she said.

Doctors and medical groups are very aware they’re being scrutinized and graded, and not just through patient surveys.

They often are publicly rated through a number of social-media sites, from those that award one to five stars based on patient comments to what is said about doctors on forums such as Yelp and Facebook.

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