Background: A fundamental aspect of patient care is the therapeutic relationship between the patient and his or her healthcare team. Previous studies have shown that many physicians fail to introduce themselves when meeting patients and do not explain what role they play in their patients’ care. In attempts to make it easier for patients to identify their providers, healthcare institutions have provided patients with photo business cards or sheets with pictures of their physicians. While this has improved the ability of patients to identify providers, its relationship with improving patient satisfaction is mixed. Furthermore, the impact of non-physician members of healthcare teams, who are essential in the modern multidisciplinary medical environment, has not been previously studied.
Methods: We created FACES sheets that included the photos, names, and role descriptions of the healthcare team members (attending physician, residents, interns, medical students, pharmacists, social workers, case managers, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech and language pathologists). Patients on two of the four general medicine inpatient services received the appropriate FACES sheets while patients on the other two services only received standard admission documents. Upon discharge, patients from all services were asked to identify pictures of the members of their care team and to match the faces that they recognized with the correct name and role. The patients also completed a survey that included measures of patient satisfaction and healthcare coordination.
Results: Of the 322 patients approached, 214 (66%) agreed to complete the questionnaire. 14 patients were subsequently excluded due to cognitive impairment and 3 were unable to complete the survey. After exclusion, the intervention group, which received the FACES sheet, consisted of 111 patients and the control group was comprised of 86 patients. On average, the patient cohort that received the FACES sheet recognized more providers, 4.8 versus 3.3 (p<0.0001), than the controls and could correctly identify more of the providers roles, 2.7 versus 0.6 (p<0.0001). Although there was a trend towards benefit in the intervention group, there was no statistically significant difference between the groups in their evaluations of how well providers worked together (p=0.19), communicated (p=0.12), or seemed to enjoy working with one another (p=0.08). Furthermore, the overall rating of the hospital did not differ significantly between the intervention and control groups (8.79 vs 8.54, p=0.31)
Conclusions: Though the distribution of FACES sheets improved identification of healthcare team members and recognition of their roles, there was only a non- statistically significant trend towards a positive impact on patient satisfaction and perceptions of teamwork.