5 myths that physicians believe about patient experience

Strong communication, coordination among the care team, leadership, and support and empathy are the most important factors for a successful patient experience. They’re all driven by the physician as the influencer in chief.

Myth 1: HCAHPS is only a hospital metric.

Fact: Performance on patient experience metrics can impact physician finances.

  • Medical liability is greater if patients are dissatisfied (more likely to sue).
  • Public reporting is tied to future payment.
  • Increase in online consumer information (social media and review sites) influences market share. Patient reviews revolve around their experience.

Myth 2: Patient experience is not a real clinical concern.

Fact: Excellent patient experience—better coordination and clearer communication—drives clinical outcomes.

Sixty percent of American adults immediately forget the medical information explained to them. Strong physician communication and care team coordination are needed to engage patients and achieve the best outcomes.

Higher patient satisfaction and patient-centered care are associated with:

  • Lower 30-day readmission rates
  • Lower inpatient mortality rates
  • Decreased utilization of care services and lower total annual charges

Myth 3: Patients rate their experience based on factors like amenities or nursing—things outside physicians’ control.

Fact: Physicians hugely influence the most important drivers of experience ratings.

Physician communication with the care team sets the tone for many patient experience domains, particularly communication with nurses, pain management, and timeliness of assistance. Patients want caregivers who communicate with them, and with one another.

Myth 4: I don’t have the time to spare for longer patient interactions.

Fact: Better patient experience is about quality, not quantity.

Introducing yourself and your role takes seconds and improves outcomes.

Myth 5: Patient experience is not about physicians.

Fact: The physician is the influencer in chief when it comes to patient experience.

Learn more

Get a printable infographic with more details, and read more on this topic. Excerpts used with permission from Advisory Board.

Four ways you can ace your role as the influencer in chief:

  • Lead by example: Set precedent for patient experience, and clarify for the patient the care team and plan.
  • Drive strong care team communication: Lead with strong communication, and resolve problems as needed.
  • Cultivate patient empathy: Work to understand the patient, and show compassion to the patient and family.
  • Ensure excellent patient communication, verbally as well as body language, facial emotional indicators, and actions. Serve as caregiver, pillar of knowledge and guidance, teacher, shared decision maker, and leader.

Recent patient comments about compassion and empathy

Positive comments

  • “Having a doctor who is compassionate and understanding makes seeing the doctor easier.”
  • “All the nurses, physicians, anesthesiology staff were great and showed us true empathy, explained all tests and procedures thoroughly, answered all of our questions through each step of the way. It felt like everyone was a team working together to do their best.”
  • “The BEST thing was the kindness and COMPASSION shown to my husband during this most PAINFUL ordeal. His comfort and care were a primary concern by EVERY member of his team. Thank you!”
  • “All the doctors were very personable, friendly, and compassionate. I cannot think of another hospital I would rather be.”
  • “All the nurses and nurse assistants were incredible—very compassionate.”

  Missed the mark

  • “Nurses were great—physicians were like robots taking very little time with no compassion.”
  • “More compassion from drs., not talking negativity in front of patient.”
  • “Dr. came in and asked the resident to define my problems. The two discussed me as I sat there, dr. never addressed ME or offered empathy or suggestions. I am ANGRY.”
  • “Drs. and nurses need better bedside manners and empathy.”
  • “I didn’t get to pick who I wanted, which would have been fine but this is the rudest dr. I’ve ever been to. He treated me and talked to me like I was some kind of loser and had no feelings; he has no compassion.”
  • “Front desk people lack personality and empathy.”
  • “Was cold and not empathetic, did not respect my feelings.”