Background: Understanding communication between providers and patients is key to providing patient-centered care. We sought to determine if patient’s perception of time spent by physician at bedside is associated with patient satisfaction with physician communication.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of patients admitted to the hospital medicine service. The survey included questions about patient’s perception of time spent by physician, patient’s age, race, and gender, and two validated tools regarding patient satisfaction with physician communication, 5-question satisfaction questionnaire (5QS) based on a 10-point Likert scale and Tool to Assess Inpatient Satisfaction with Care from Hospitalists (TAISCH) based on a 5-point Likert scale. Patients were enrolled if they were cared for by the same hospitalist provider for at least 2 consecutive days. Exclusion criteria included non-English speakers, patients unable to answer questions due to their clinical condition, and patients undergoing tests or procedures whose care may be delayed due to participation in the survey. Descriptive data were collected from hospitalists including age, gender and year(s) since graduation. Surveys were administered from April to October 2018. Relationship between patient’s perception of time spent by physician at bedside and patient satisfaction with physician communication was examined using bootstrap linear regression models without and with adjustment for potential patient and physician confounders.
Results: Of the 226 patients enrolled in this study, 120 (53.8%) were females, 143 (63.3%) were African Americans, with mean (SD) age of 52.9 (16.5) years, mean 5QS score of 9.1 (1.4), and mean TAISCH score of 3.8 (0.7). Of the 43 physicians, 25 (56.8%) were females, with age of 35.9 (5.4) years, and 7.6 (5.2) years of experience. Physicians spent <5 minutes as perceived by 25(11%) patients, 5-10 minutes by 97 (43%), 11-15 minutes by 59 (26%) patients, and >15 minutes by 45 (20%) patients. In unadjusted models, 5QS and TAISCH scores were significantly higher in patients who perceived that physicians spent >15 minutes at bedside as compared to patients who perceived that physicians spent <5 minutes (5QS difference = 1.32, 95%CI=0.58 to 2.06, P<0.001 and TAISCH difference = 0.59, 95%CI = 0.26 to 0.92, P<0.001). The results did not change when adjusted for potential confounders (Figure).
Conclusions: We found that patient perception of the time spent by physicians at bedside is a significant and independent predictor of patient satisfaction with physician communication. Efforts increasing the amount of time spent by physicians at bedside are likely to result in increased patient satisfaction, although this hypothesis needs further study.