Objective: To determine whether patients' satisfaction with their primary care is related to providers' use of medical resources.
Study design: Sixty-two practices serving 2805 patients enrolled in BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota were analyzed using hierarchical regression models.
Methods: Three measures of satisfaction included patient satisfaction with overall healthcare, patient satisfaction with the time spent with a physician or other provider during a visit, and the likelihood that a patient would recommend the clinic to others.
Results: Patient satisfaction was found to be primarily a function of patient characteristics and not of practice characteristics. Providers' use of medical resources was not significantly related to patients' overall ratings of healthcare or to patients' willingness to recommend the practice to others. However, the time spent with a physician or other provider was significantly negatively related to patient satisfaction. Physician workload was significantly related to patient satisfaction.
Conclusions: To improve patient satisfaction, practices should focus on reducing physician workload. Valid measures of patient satisfaction must correct for the strong effects of patient characteristics.