What Patient Surveys Say About Concierge Medicine

November 19, 2015

Many industries survey their customers to find out how effectively they are meeting their needs. Medicine is no different.

If you spend any time listening to the "talking heads" on news shows, one of the most often discussed topics is the voter surveys. You can only wonder about the accuracy of some of the results they report. How the questions are asked can lead to inaccurate results. In addition, the swings in the results over short periods of time lead to some raised eyebrows at a minimum.

In healthcare, there is also a reliance on surveys to get feedback from patients and doctors. While the results of surveys regarding patient care and satisfaction with concierge care are also subject to the laws of statistics and the variations in how questions are asked and answered, there is a remarkable consistency to the high level of satisfaction among concierge patients.

As a service provider to concierge doctors, how does Concierge Choice use surveys? Before establishing a working relationship with a physician, we survey the patients of select practices to learn about their relationships. Once we are employed by physicians and practices, we also perform annual member satisfaction surveys.

Anyone who is peppered with telephonic surveys knows that when interrupted at what often is the dinner hour, most people hang-up or elect not to participate. Thus the results are skewed by inherent selectivity because results are derived only from those who are willing to give up their time.

We mail surveys (yes, old-fashioned snail mail) to patients so that they can answer at their convenience. We pay the return postage (another rarity) and we keep confidential the individual answers by patients about practices. We also offer the option of online surveys for convenience.

The most interesting data comes from satisfaction surveys of patients. Concierge Choice surveyed roughly 18,000 member patients between January 2015 to November 2015 on patient satisfaction measures. Since this type of survey often is a vehicle for complaints and dissatisfaction, the results are surprising:

• 98 percent agree that the communication with their physician is better now that there is more time

• 98 percent agree that they can reach their physician 24/7

• 98 percent agree that the medical office staff is helpful

• 99 percent are satisfied with the way that our service company answers their questions

• 97 percent would recommend membership to a friend.

• 84 percent indicate that their physician spends more than 15 minutes with them

• 94 percent wait for less than 15 minutes to see their doctor (48 percent under 5 minutes)

So what makes the responses so positive? Where is the dissatisfaction? While some may argue that when you can vote with your feet by leaving a program, only satisfied customers remain to be surveyed. However, with a membership retention rate well over 90 percent, that's just not the case. The survey results prove what the physicians we work with have known all along - patients like and appreciate this model of healthcare.

And patient satisfaction is a crucial component to good health because it is directly related to patient compliance. The best outcomes can occur when there is a strong relationship between the provider and the patient.