I live in California, one of two states where consumers are both most and least satisfied with our doctors—the two largest states in the nation. Patients in San Francisco and Oakland, Calif. seem happiest with their physicians, while the least satisfied American healthcare consumers reside in other California and New York State cities. The Vanguard firm derived these conclusions by analyzing online reviews of more than 46,000 doctors in America’s 100 largest cities and found these facts about how your city rates local doctors.
“Because I’m happy”
I’m not sure how Pharrell would adapt his hit song to these waffling results. Cities in New York and California account for eight of the 10 unhappiest municipalities in the HPI or Happy Patient Index, while cities with the happiest patients are found in nine different states.
The majority of online reviewers gush over their healthcare providers: 56.8 percent give their physicians four stars or better, says Vanguard.
The company’s CEO noted that doctors get better reviews than hotels, restaurants and retail businesses. That’s a good thing since taking care of a human body should rank higher than taking care of business.
Is your city happy?
Vanguard lists the 10 happiest cities as: (1) San Francisco/Oakland, Calif.; (2) Honolulu, Hawaii; (3) Indianapolis, Ind.; (4) Seattle, Wash.; (5) St. Louis, Mo.; (6) Cleveland, Ohio; (7) San Jose, Calif.; (8) Austin, Texas; (9) New Orleans, La.; (10) Birmingham, Ala.
And unhappiest as: (1) Bakersfield, Calif.; (2) Modesto, Calif.; (3) North Hempstead, N.Y.; (4) Sacramento, Calif.; (5) Buffalo, N.Y.; (6) Riverside, Calif.; (7) Orlando, Fla.; (8) San Bernardino, Calif.; (9) Washington, D.C.; (10) Huntington, N.Y.
More to do in less time
Doctors are under more pressure to deliver more in less time, since the average time a patient spends with a new doctor is approximately eight minutes, while the average time for other doctors can range between 13 and 20 minutes. Doctors and their staffs are adjusting to the new realities of healthcare reform under the Affordable Care Act. The publication Medical Economics lists the Top 10 Challenges Facing Physicians in 2014, and if you look closely, some resemble challenges facing the rest of us in our own businesses:
- Payment for medical services
- Government mandates
- Payer headaches and the fine print
- Technology costs
- Staffing and training
- Putting control back in the hands of physicians
- Changing patient populations
- Primary care’s changing role
- Work-life balance
Say what you need to say
Finally, the most important thing you can do during your office visit is be prepared to communicate and do it smartly. Check out my story for the American Heart Association’s Heart Insight on “How to Talk to Your Doctor.” I truly hope it will help you make the most of your precious time. It is your time, after all.