Professor Rachel Grob, a researcher at the Center for Patient Partnerships, is calling for the integration of patient narratives into assessments of health provider quality.
Grob argues that, in conjunction with quantitative assessments, qualitative patient feedback can empower both consumers and doctors. She was part of a team of scientists who recently published their findings, “Taking Patients’ Narratives about Clinicians from Anecdote to Science,” in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Some health care providers express skepticism about the value of patient narratives, especially given the proliferation of ratings sites like Healthgrade, Yelp and Angie’s List. Grob and her co-authors argue that carefully elicited patient feedback could help patients and providers communicate in more meaningful ways. But the processes for eliciting and reporting patient narratives must be held to the same standard of scientific rigor as other types of data.
“Narratives can act as an interpretive lens” for other rating methods, such as the one- to five-star system commonly seen online, they write. Besides offering richer descriptions of patients’ experiences, “narratives can convey what the commenter seeks in a clinician, allowing readers to focus on comments from patients whose expectations align with their own needs and preferences.” For clinicians, narratives can provide added insight when patients aren’t satisfied with their care. Doctors can observe recurring patterns in their practice, and begin to pinpoint areas they need to improve.
“The time is right for patients to have an increasingly large and meaningful impact on health care,” says Grob. “Moving from anecdote to science in collecting qualitative data about the experiences we all have with health and health care is one way the Center for Patient Partnerships is striving to amplify patients’ voices and be sure they are heard.”
Grob is the director of national initiatives at the center, which is based at University of Wisconsin Law School.
Submitted by Law School News on September 30, 2015