Content and Actionability of Recommendations to Providers After Shadow Coaching

Qual Manag Health Care. 2022 Oct-Dec;31(4):199-209. doi: 10.1097/QMH.0000000000000354. Epub 2022 Feb 14.


Background and objectives: Health care organizations track patient experience data, identify areas of improvement, monitor provider performance, and assist providers in improving their interactions with patients. Some practices use one-on-one provider counseling ("shadow coaching") to identify and modify provider behaviors. A recent evaluation of a large shadow coaching program found statistically significant improvements in coached providers' patient experience scores immediately after being coached. This study aimed to examine the content of the recommendations given to those providers aimed at improving provider-patient interactions, characterize these recommendations, and examine their actionability.

Methods: Providers at a large, urban federally qualified health center were selected for coaching based on Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS) patient experience scores (92 of 320 providers), shadowed by a trained peer coach for a half to full day and received recommendations on how to improve interactions with their patients. We coded 1082 recommendations found in the 92 coaching reports.

Results: Reports contained an average of 12 recommendations. About half encouraged consistency of existing behaviors and half encouraged new behaviors. Most recommendations related to behaviors of the provider rather than support staff and targeted actions within the examination room rather than other spaces (eg, waiting room). The most common recommendations mapped to behavioral aspects of provider communication. Most recommendations targeted verbal rather than nonverbal communication behaviors. Most recommendations were actionable (ie, specific, descriptive), with recommendations that encouraged new behaviors being more actionable than those that encouraged existing actions.

Conclusions: Patient experience surveys are effective at identifying where improvement is needed but are not always informative enough to instruct providers on how to modify and improve their interactions with patients. Analyzing the feedback given to coached providers as part of an effective shadow-coaching program provides details about implementation on shadow-coaching feedback. Recommendations to providers aimed at improving their interactions with patients need to not only suggest the exact behaviors defined within patient experience survey items but also include recommended behaviors indirectly associated with those measured behaviors. Attention needs to be paid to supplementing patient experience data with explicit, tangible, and descriptive (ie, actionable) recommendations associated with the targeted, measured behaviors. Research is needed to understand how recommendations are put into practice by providers and what motivates and supports them to sustain changed behaviors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Mentoring*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Surveys and Questionnaires