Measuring patient experience in two words

Photo by mcmurryjulie

How much can you convey in just two words?

Quite a bit, according to new research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Researchers there assessed physician performance by asking patients, “Please describe your provider in today’s visit in 2 words,” using a free-text comment box that was distributed electronically or on paper immediately following a clinic visit. This simple query was added to the standard, lengthier patient experience survey that typically takes 15 minutes to complete.

The research team analyzed the resulting two-word scores for 716 physicians at a large academic medical center. Positive and negative word rates were calculated for each physician and shown to correlate well with the standard performance scores, such as a physician’s national percentile rank.

The research appears in JAMA.

The data was also used to create positive and negative response word clouds in which the font size equaled the frequency of the word — providing a visual representation of the patient’s perception of the clinician.

In addition to improving survey response rates, the researchers hope this new qualitative and visual assessment will help physicians better understand their strengths and weaknesses so they can improve their performance.

The study data is already being used for a variety of purposes, including professional reviews and assessment of clinical education. The researchers also said they are collaborating with other institutions to explore the use of this survey method in different health care settings.

In the paper, the authors concluded:

The 2-word innovation is a simple, relevant, and actionable approach to capture meaningful information about a physician and has already piqued the interest of other health systems.

This is a reposting of my Scope blog story, courtesy of Stanford School of Medicine.

Author: Jennifer Huber

As a Ph.D. physicist and research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, I gained extensive experience in medical imaging and technical writing. Now, I am a full-time freelance science writer, editor and science-writing instructor. I've lived in the San Francisco Bay Area most of my life and I frequently enjoy the eclectic cultural, culinary and outdoor activities available in the area.

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