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Report Confirms Consumer Selection is a Driving Force in Health Care Today
Date:10/19/2008

Press Ganey Annual Physicians' Office Pulse Report Released Today

SOUTH BEND, Ind., Oct. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- A new Press Ganey Associates, Inc. report released today confirms patients have heightened expectations of their health care experience and feel more empowered to choose where they receive care. Health care facilities must address satisfaction at all points of the patient experience to maintain and improve patient retention rates. The 2008 Physicians' Office Pulse Report: Patient Perspectives on American Health Care examines the experiences of more than 1.9 million patients treated at nearly 8,500 offices nationwide.

This annual report finds that patients are most dissatisfied during the 24 minute average wait time before seeing a physician. Specific low patient satisfaction areas include registration, wait times, and treatment before seeing a doctor.

The report also identifies the top five patient priorities:

Priority 1: Sensitivity to patients' needs

Priority 2: Overall cheerfulness of the practice

Priority 3: Overall rating of care received during the visit

Priority 4: Comfort and pleasantness of the exam room

Priority 5: Waiting time in exam room before being seen by the care

provider

Another finding is that patients age 50 and older report the highest levels of satisfaction. Patients ages 18-49 are the least satisfied and also tend to proactively seek out information about health care options and play a bigger role in decisions about their care. Additionally, these patients are more sensitive to customer service and how they are treated throughout their experience.

"It is vital for physicians' offices to address the entire patient experience -- from booking an appointment to paying the bill -- and make sure it is as easy and understandable as possible," said Lisa Cone-Swartz, vice president of medical practice and home health services at Press Ganey. "Practices need to establish systems to ensure that patients' voices are being heard. If they take the first step in getting patient feedback, physicians' offices can then develop tools to help improve the experience."

There are some basic steps physicians' offices can take to help address patient concerns and make experiences better:
-- Asking questions at the end of an appointment call to ensure all needs

were met

-- Streamline the registration process to ensure patients are asked to

complete only necessary paperwork

-- Greeting patients properly and showing concern for their comfort

-- Ensuring patients are comfortable while they wait in the exam room to

see their provider

"These are just a few suggestions," added Cone-Swartz. "The important part is that patients' needs are always first priority."

The 2008 Physician's Office Pulse Report: Patient Perspectives on American Health Care is available at http://www.pressganey.com/galleries/default- file/Physicians_Office_Pulse_Report_2008.pdf.

Lisa Cone-Swartz and the Yale Medical Group are available for comment upon request.

Case Study: Yale Medical Group

Yale Medical Group (YMG) in New Haven, Connecticut is one of the largest multi-specialty group practices in the United States. It has a wide depth of specialties throughout the country, ranging from internal medicine to fertility centers. YMG has consistently struggled to implement a universal patient satisfaction improvement program that can address patient satisfaction needs across the network and in each individual office.

Dedicated to improving every patient's experience, YMG decided to launch a new plan focused on satisfaction. Individual offices made simple changes like communicating delays to patients and developing scripts to ensure that calls are answered in a consistent manner. Staff members started making personalized calls to patients to thank them for positive feedback or to address issues raised during their visit.

Organization-wide initiatives included forming a service excellence committee to identify problems and developing a patient satisfaction Website. The Website provides an easy way for staff members to send improvement ideas and receive feedback.

These efforts have led to many improvements for YMG and, after 3 years, the group saw a 3-point increase in overall satisfaction. This improved YMG's satisfaction score to 90. YMG continues to implement better communication tactics and strives for greater improvement.

Press Ganey Associates, Inc.

For more than 20 years, Press Ganey has been committed to providing insight that allows health care organizations to improve the quality of care they provide while improving their bottom-line results. The company offers the largest comparative customer feedback databases, actionable data, solution resources, and unparalleled consulting and customer service. Press Ganey currently partners with more than 7,000 health care facilities -- including over 40% of U.S. hospitals -- to measure and improve the quality of their care.


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SOURCE Press Ganey Associates, Inc.
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