Why is patient satisfaction with chiropractic care so high?
If you have been to a chiropractor, and have realized the benefits to you and your family, sometimes convincing others to visit for the first time can be a challenge. Years ago, chiropractors were shunned by the medical profession and the stigma still lingers. On the other hand, a percentage of the profession has not been as trustworthy as they should be, which has unfortunately harmed our professional reputation, even though great chiropractors often get great results with what ails their patients.
Proof of this exists in the data, where the utilization of chiropractic has almost doubled in the past 10 years, and magazines such as Consumer Reports and now Bottom Line Personal suggest seeing a chiropractor first for many musculoskeletal conditions, since the cost of the intervention is lower and more effective, as well as safer. Even United Healthcare has found, through their Optum subsidiary that patients who visit chiropractors are highly satisfied and cost them less than what the traditional approaches cost.
If you are a fan of the chiropractic approach to healthcare, as more medical doctors now are, you know how it helps you without the use of medications or surgeries. For most patients, their chiropractor seems to be the first one they feel relates more to why they hurt, not just where while taking a personal interest.
Most of our patients are pleasantly surprised at the depth of knowledge, as well as how we are able to describe easily why they hurt in simple english. We stay away from using fancy words they do not understand, or scary jargon, or worse yet, sending them out from doctor to doctor without taking a personal interest in why they have a problem like most people experience from the healthcare system. Chiropractic visits are quite efficient, especially since the doctor does not require a referral and can switch care or refer whenever necessary, without requiring a referral to do so from another provider in most cases.
At a time where patients are constantly being forced to go to different health care providers each year due to their prior doctor “…not being on the list,” are patients truly satisfied with the care/treatment they receive?
If so, what exactly are the reasons and factors that drive patient satisfaction with Chiropractic?
The process of measuring patient satisfaction can be viewed from several different angles.
One study looked at the improvement of the patient’s condition and only 57% of the satisfaction score was based on improvement.
Because the concept of measuring satisfaction is multifactorial, more important methods of measuring patient satisfaction had to be considered.
A recent study did just this – they measured parameters that included pain, disability (activity tolerance), satisfaction with information received, effectiveness of care, caring, and quality of care.
The information was obtained by two different interviewers with similar information received regardless if it was the doctor or a third party.
THE RESULTS SHOWED ALL PATIENTS REPORTED HIGH LEVELS OF SATISFACTION AND THOUGH THE CLINICAL OUTCOMES REGARDING PAIN AND DISABILITY WERE MOST IMPORTANT, THE INFORMATION RECEIVED THAT HELPED PATIENTS UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS WRONG WITH THEM, AND, WHAT COULD BE DONE (BY BOTH DOCTOR AND PATIENT) TO SPEED RECOVERY AND PREVENT FUTURE EPISODES WERE VERY IMPORTANT FACTORS IN THE OVERALL SATISFACTION SCORE.
Patients also wanted timely information so they were kept up-to-date with what was being done at various points in time during care.
The information had to be understandable and informative and explained in “layman’s terms” so that they “learned something” from the information received.
Caring included four questions:
- Does the doctor believe what the patient tells them?
- Does the doctor understand the patient’s concerns?
- Was the doctor comfortable dealing with the patient’s pain?
- Was the doctor concerned about the patient after they left the office?
The information gathered included treatment, doctor confidence, and prognosis (how long it might take to get better). Also, effectiveness was further divided into listening, knowledge, experience, and the use of an active management approach.
The conclusion of the study emphasizes the importance of using a mixed-method approach when examining patient satisfaction.
This includes quantitative “scores” from questionnaires as well as qualitative information about the encounter including information, caring, and effectiveness.