Background: Patient Satisfaction (PS) is a commonly used metric in health care settings to assess the quality of care given by physicians. Monitoring physicians in this way may impact physician quality of life. Studies evaluating this impact are not available. This study sought to examine the physician experience of measuring PS among practicing otolaryngologists.
Methods: Using an online survey platform, a 34-item survey was given to practicing otolaryngologists through email distribution. The survey included questions about physician, practice and patient demographics, as well as inquiries regarding the way in which PS was measured and how it affected physician work and personal life. Data from these questions were reviewed and analyzed.
Results: 174 otolaryngologists responded to the survey. A majority of physicians' (55.3%) PS scores had been tracked with 89.9% reporting being tracked for a length of at least 1 year. PS scores for individual physicians were noted to be inconsistent and vary significantly between reports. Measuring patient satisfaction led to increased occupational stress, yet most physicians (63.8%) felt the monitoring did not lead to improvements in their practice. Some physicians (36.2%) reported that the collection of patient satisfaction scores had negatively influenced the way they practiced medicine, including the pressure to order superfluous tests or to prescribe unnecessary medications.
Conclusion: Overall, physicians are negatively affected by the tracking of patient satisfaction scores. Occupational stress caused by the collection of patient satisfaction scores may contribute to physician burnout.
Keywords: Burnout; Otolaryngology; Patient satisfaction; Quality of care.
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