USA Today op-ed: How patient satisfaction influences medical decisions

My latest USA Today op-ed was published this morning: Patient satisfaction surveys have drawbacks.

I discuss how patient satisfaction scores affect physician salaries, which may, in turn, influence medical decision making.  Of course, patient satisfaction is important and should be measured — but it’s a mistake to use them in part to determine physician compensation. Here’s an excerpt:

Quality health care sometimes means saying “no” to patients; denying them habit-forming pain medications that can feed an underlying, destructive drug addiction, or refusing to order unneeded CT scans that can facilitate harmful radiation exposure.

Satisfaction scores give patients a needed voice to express their concerns, which can help medical professionals improve their patient relations. But it’s a mistake to use patient satisfaction as a doctor’s financial carrot.

After all, a completely happy patient isn’t necessarily one who has received the best medical care.

Enjoy the piece.


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