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Thomas AM. Patient Satisfaction: Measuring the Art of Medicine. JAMA. 1998;280(24):2127D. doi:10.1001/jama.280.24.2127
Prepared by Ashish Bajaj, Department of Resident Physician
Services, American Medical Association.
In business schools and corporate boardrooms across
America, the terms customer satisfaction and demand
management have become an integral part of the lexicon. Twenty
years ago, most corporations were not focused on such external factors
and for the most part did not design products or deliver services with
much significant research into, or interest in, what consumers actually
wanted. An analogous argument could have been made about the medical
profession; care was often delivered from the physician's perspective
without a great deal of input from patients or their families.
However, a number of factors have made physicians more interested in
measuring and responding to patient's desires. One key factor is that
physicians and other health professionals are now examining patient
satisfaction as part of a renewed focus on quality and value in health
care delivery. Managed care organizations (MCOs) became popular because
employers needed to curb skyrocketing employee health care costs in
order to remain competitive. Because much of that early "fat" has
now been cut out of the system, and the price differential among
physicians and hospitals is decreasing, patients are now judging
physicians not solely by cost, but also by the value or quality of care
they deliver. Patient satisfaction is a critical variable in any
calculation of quality or value.
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