A new study by an online doctor reviews site has shown that patients seem to care more about service and bedside manner than about the medical expertise of their doctors.
In the study, Vitals, one of today’s leading doctor review sites, analyzed 1,000 recent reviews and found that patients value in their doctors many qualities that are not often taught in medical school – such as customer service and the doctor’s interpersonal behavior. According to the site, some of the most common words found in the reviews were “office,” “staff,” “waits,” “called,” “explained,” and “listened” – appearing more than 100 times in the collected reviews. In contrast, the word “diagnosed” appeared only 40 times.
Here’s an infographic showing the most popular words in recent Vitals reviews:
“Our analysis suggests that customer service will remain of great importance to the doctor-patient relationship,” said Vitals CEO Mitch Rothschild in a statement. “These softer metrics reinforce the importance of a patient feeling heard and valued. Studies show that the better the patient experience, the better the clinical outcome.”
The results of Vitals’ study demonstrate that – whether doctors like it or not – medical expertise is not the only factor that contributes to patient satisfaction and overall sentiment. Values that one doesn’t necessarily learn in medical school come into play, too. A similar study done last year by Vanguard Communications revealed that patients want excellent customer service and good bedside manner above all. In fact, the patients who posted negative online doctor reviews complained about poor service and bedside manner four times as much as they did about misdiagnoses and inadequate medical skills. (Check out: “Online Doctor Reviews Reveal What Matters Most to Patients”)
This makes it more critical than ever for doctors, physicians, and healthcare and medical professionals to monitor doctor reviews and, more importantly, improve their levels of service.
“Across industries, reviews are popular because they provide easy-to-understand recommendations. In healthcare, first-hand experiences help patients who face decisions that are more complicated and higher stakes make better choices,” added Rothschild.