Recently I wrote about empowerment and the importance of letting patients make their own health care decisions. Our job is to make sure patients are given information and then allowed to choose the best option for them. Maybe we should even embolden patients; give them confidence and encourage them to take more control. Physicians tend to feel more comfortable advising according to the “standard of care” and we struggle handing over the reins when we believe we “know” the safest path to take.
Every time I talk about building better metrics, I emphasize the significance of evaluating something physicians can change or control. The intent behind measuring patient satisfaction was likely to increase patient autonomy, however, as with many things; the devil was in the details. It turns out chasing higher patient satisfaction scores can result in higher costs and increased mortality. Overall, the most satisfied patients were more likely to be admitted to the hospital and total health-care costs were 9% higher. Most strikingly, for every 100 people who died over a four year period in the least satisfied group, 126 people died in the most satisfied group. At least they died happy and satisfied right? That notion can be difficult for some physicians to accept but might be more important than we realize.