Background: For several years, patient evaluations of their physician has been utilized as a metric to evaluate physician performance and now it has been included as a parameter utilized to calculate reimbursement. Despite the routine use of these evaluations by most hospitals and agencies, little research has been done to evaluate the accuracy and characteristics of these patient evaluations. We sought to assess whether patients could correctly identify the hospitalist who was providing their care and whether the ability to identify the hospitalist had any effect on the satisfaction scores provided by these patients.
Methods: This prospective observational study was conducted at a suburban voluntary hospital that has 318 inpatient beds. All patients admitted to the telemetry floor were eligible. Patients who were unable or refused to answer the questionnaire were excluded. The hospitalists were evaluated anonymously by their patients over a 4- month period on a questionnaire designed to assess patient satisfaction. The questionnaire was administered by a team of trained research assistants and asked the patient to identify their physician by name as well as 5 additional questions designed to assess: physician communication, concern, introduction to the patient, answering patient questions and whether the patient would recommend the physician. Patient satisfaction was rated on 3-point scale.
Results: During the 3-month period of the study 158 patients evaluated 16 hospitalists yielding an average of 9.9 evaluations per hospitalist. Of the patients who completed the survey 49 (31%) were able to correctly identify their hospitalist and 108 were not. The cumulative score for each question was compared between patients who could correctly identify the name of their hospitalist and those who could not. The questions related to hospitalist concern, answering patient questions and the patient likelihood of recommending the hospitalist did not show any significant differences. The variables for effective communication and hospitalist introduction to the patient were scored significantly higher by patients who could identify their hospitalist (2.77 vs. 2.55; p=.027 and 2.90 vs. 2.67; p=.005).
Conclusions: Less than one-third of patients who completed a survey to assess their hospitalist’s performance were able to correctly identify the hospitalist’s name. The variables for effective communication and hospitalist introduction to the patient were scored significantly higher by patients who could identify their hospitalist.