Background: Simple interventions such as facecards can improve patients' knowledge of names and roles of hospital physicians, but the effect on other aspects of the patient-physician relationship is not clear.
Objective: To pilot an intervention to improve familiarity with physicians and assess its potential to improve patients' satisfaction, trust, and agreement with physicians.
Design: Cluster randomized controlled trial assessing the impact of physician facecards. Physician facecards included pictures of physicians and descriptions of their roles. We performed structured interviews of randomly selected patients to assess outcomes.
Setting: One of 2 similar hospitalist units and 1 of 2 teaching-service units in a large teaching hospital were randomly selected to implement the intervention.
Measurements: Satisfaction with physician communication and overall hospital care was assessed using the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems. Trust and agreement were each assessed through instruments used in prior research.
Results: Overall, 138 patients completed interviews, with no differences in age, sex, or race between those receiving facecards and those not. More patients who received facecards correctly identified ≥1 hospital physician (89.1% vs 51.1%; P < 0.01) and their role (67.4% vs 16.3%; P < 0.01) than patients who had not received facecards. Patients had high baseline levels of satisfaction, trust, and agreement with hospital physicians, and we found no significant differences with the use of facecards.
Conclusions: Physician facecards improved patients' knowledge of the names and roles of hospital physicians. Larger studies are needed to assess the impact on satisfaction, trust, and agreement with physicians.
© 2013 Society of Hospital Medicine.