Knowing More About Your Doctor Could Boost Patient Satisfaction

How well do you really know your doctor?

A small new study in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma suggests that the more people know about their doctors, the happier they'll be with their care.

"I think, in general, people recover better when they are more comfortable with the care they are receiving," study researcher Alex Jahangir, M.D., an associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said in a statement. "So it matters to patients and physicians who want a quick recovery, and now because of provisions in the Affordable Care Act, it matters to the institution because there are millions of dollars that can be at risk if patient satisfaction is low."

Jahangir and his colleagues gave "biosketch" cards -- handout cards with information about a doctor -- to 100 patients, while 112 other patients did not receive such cards. Then, researchers followed up with all the patients within two weeks of their being discharged from care, to ask about their satisfaction. By the end of the study, they were only able to reach 34 patients who received the biosketch cards and 42 patients who did not receive the cards.

Patient satisfaction scores among the people who received the biosketch cards were 22 percent higher, compared with those who didn't receive the cards, researchers found.

Specifically, 25 out of the 34 patients who received the cards said that they had "excellent overall quality of doctor care." Meanwhile, 22 out of the 42 patients who did not receive the cards said the same.

This isn't the first time it's been suggested that rapport between doctor and patient could lead to patient benefits. A 2012 study in the journal Patient Education and Counseling showed that doctor empathy is associated with decreased stress and pain levels among patients.