Tools: Rural Georgia practices test patient-satisfaction electronic kiosks

October 10, 2008

Are your patients satisfied with their visits? In four rural Georgia medical offices, patients leaving their family practice will be able to voice their opinion about communication with their doctor at an electronic touch-screen kiosk developed by researchers at the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine.

Are your patients satisfied with their visits? In four rural Georgia medical offices, patients leaving their family practice will be able to voice their opinion about communication with their doctor at an electronic touch-screen kiosk developed by researchers at the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine.

In this eight-week trial, which began late last month, two of the practices will receive almost instant results of the patient answers streamed from the kiosk to a back office computer. Using colored spheres to indicate scores in eight performance areas, clinicians can glance at the “dashboard” to tell if their patients believe they listen, show respect, offer clear instructions and spend enough time with them. Green indicates above average, yellow for average and red for below average.

The other two practices in the trial will also receive the dashboard data, but after the study is completed. The goal is to determine if the color indictors will influence physician behavior, says Peggy Wagner, PhD, a psychologist and research director for the Department of Family Medicine in the Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine and principal investigator on the study.

“A glance is really the amount of time that doctors have to look at things in the office,” says Wagner. The results are delayed by every fifth patient to ensure their anonymity. The dashboard only displays full practice results, while individual doctors will receive personal scores through their e-mail.

Typically, patient satisfaction surveys are days or weeks after a visit when the memory of the encounter isn’t as fresh and when the patient may no longer be suffering from an acute condition. Wagner is also interested to find out how receptive patients will be to take a survey immediately following a visit.

“My goal right now is to see if this is feasible,” she says. “Technologically it’s feasible, but is it feasible that patients will actually do this when they may not be feeling well?” 

The six questions on the survey will come from the 2007 Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Provider and Services’ Clinician and Group Survey developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is funding the Georgia study with a $100,000 grant.

Wagner hopes for a second larger phase of the study, depending on the results of the first. A report of the results will be published next year.

 

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