Physician bio, offered to patients, improves satisfactionNews added by Benefits Pro on November 11, 2013

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By Dan Cook

A new piece of information that helps boost hospital patients’ satisfaction scores has just been identified — their medical provider's biographies.

That's the word from a Vanderbilt University Medical Center study which revealed that as many as nine out of 10 hospital patients do not know the name of the person treating them. The easy way to change that result —and to improve patient outcomes — is to tell the patient something about the clinician in charge of their care.

In a controlled test involving more than 200 patients, half were given biographical information about their medics in a short “sketch card” while the other half was not.

“The patients were contacted within two weeks after being discharged from the hospital. The satisfaction scores of patients who received the ‘biosketch’ cards were 22 percent higher than those of patients who were not given the cards,” the study, reported in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma, said.

This bit of evidence supports the broader issues being raised as health insurance providers seek more input from consumers about their preferences when they choose a health benefits plan. A recent study found somewhat unexpectedly that many consumers are OK with switching primary care clinicians, moving to a new hospital system and making all sorts of other changes as long as they believe their new medical “team” actually knows and cares about them.

Narrow choices in plan selection, it turned out, weren't an issue as long as the options included medical personnel and care facilities with good local reputations and ones that made an effort to establish a brand for patient-centered care. That study supports others that underscore the need for greater communication between health care personnel and their patients.

In the Vanderbilt study, even such a seemingly small matter as offering a “sketch card” with basic information about care providers markedly improved post-hospitalization patient satisfaction. The implications for applying this technique throughout the patient/provider process are enormous, Vanderbilt concluded.

"I think, in general, people recover better when they are more comfortable with the care they are receiving," Dr. Alex Jahangir, an associate professor of orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said in a university news release.

He called the “sketch card” with the bio information on it “an easy, cheap intervention … [that] is literally something that doesn't even cost a nickel but improves a patient's experience, and hopefully their recovery – metrics that matter not only to the institution, but also to patients and their physicians."

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