I have written previously about some “aha moments” that I have had as a clinician, when something that I knew was coming seemed to arrive with a thud in my own practice. I had another one of those moments a couple of weeks ago.
I was finishing up with a new patient, and had explained to him and his wife my assessment and recommendations, and had answered a bunch of questions they had. I was frankly feeling pretty good about how the encounter had gone and as he was walking out of the exam room he said (more or less): “Thanks doc, I’m glad I came to see you. I’m going to give you a really nice review on Yelp.”
He was not kidding.
I didn’t know quite what to say immediately, but I ended up thanking him (somewhat awkwardly, I suspect) and then recovered enough to tell him that while I would — of course — appreciate a nice review on Yelp, I wanted him to know that he might be getting a patient satisfaction survey in the mail, and I would really appreciate it if he filled it out and sent it back in. Encounter over. New world order in place.
As someone who has written a lot about measuring the patient experience, it came as no surprise that there were plenty of opportunities out there for patients to rate my performance. Indeed, the presence of all of these rating sites is one of the reasons why I support the public reporting of validated survey data from real patients. It is a way for us to displace bad data (like a review that could have been entered by someone who didn’t even see me — thanks Mom!) with good data, and by so doing, reinforce the trust our patients place in us.
Look, I don’t love the idea that every patient encounter can lead to an Internet review, but that is the world in which we live, and I think it is way better to embrace it than pretend it will go away.
Ira Nash is a cardiologist who blogs at Auscultation.
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