Eric Murray: How would you grade your doctor?
Grand County, CO Colorado
Patients don’t often have to think of grading or evaluating their health care providers. If you could give your doctor a grade, what would it be?
Word on the street is that the quality of care provided by local providers is exceptional. Significantly shorter wait times, more one-on-one time with physicians and better care taker-to-patient ratios top the list of reasons for generally high opinions of quality of care here.
So, if you could give your doctor or other provider a grade, what would it be?
When doctors are asked to evaluate themselves or their colleagues, they are usually in agreement as to standards. According to the Institute of Medicine’s definition, quality is “the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge.” Most doctors follow such a formula because that is the way they’ve been taught to deliver quality care.
From the patent’s perspective, quality may be a completely different thing.
Teri, (from out-of-state), who suffered life-threating injuries in a car crash on a icy highway, raves about the health care she received locally.
A dispatcher relayed information to ambulance transportation which arrived shortly after the accident. She glows when she talks about the health care she received and mentions how the quality of care exceeded her expectations and later, she compared it to care from the bigger city facilities she might have received where she was from.
Life-saving measures were provided at the scene and on the trip to the healthcare facility where the emergency room staff was ready to treat her upon her arrival.
At every step-from dispatcher to critical care-a specialized team was there to provide whatever was necessary. “They saved my life,” Teri said. She was happy to place herself passively under the care of highly trained and skilled health care professionals in Grand County.
This particular, accident-based example of the physician quality is not always the best model, however, because treating a chronic disorder like arthritis, hypertention or diabetes requires long-term cooperation from the patient. Some might go in assuming that “the doctor knows best.” Most patients appreciate a health care professional who is confident about the proper course of treatment.
Many today, however, want a chance to participate and share responsibility for decision making. Others see the doctor as a consultant, where the doctor might be the expert regarding the disease, but no one knows more about the personal effects than the patient herself. Regardless of condition, injury or ailment, the first step is to consult a qualified practitioner and start exploring your options for better health.
But take a quick tip here when talking to your doctor: Too often, according to a recent survey, the patient felt the doctor interrupted too soon. As one pointed out: “When you try to explain your symptoms, its a challenge to get a doctor to understand exactly what you might mean.”
One patient explained, “I appreciate that so many doctors here take more time to actually listen.”
Because of the longer time allotted for patients here in Grand County, I’d assume that we as patients are on the winning end of that and have ample opportunity to talk through our issues more than what is typical. So, be sure to share all the information you know, including history and current medications and even supplements, lifestyle and habits, so that your doctor can more fully understand your situation.
Doctors know that quality health care means helping the patient get well. A good health care team does that through training and expertise. But from the patent’s perspective, quality also means communicating effectively and establishing trust and understanding. After your appointment, ask the front-end person if they have an evaluation form for you to fill out to rate your experience, or go to their website and leave a comment.
Providers appreciate your honest feedback, because it helps them serve you better. Trust that your feedback will go towards the continued process improvement of local healthcare.
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