Category Archives: Patient satisfaction

Sep 27 2013

Professional Interpreters are Costly, But Crucial

Lisa Ross DeCamp, MD, MSPH, is an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars program. She is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a researcher with the Center for Child and Community Health Research.


Good communication is critical for development of an effective partnership between patient and provider.  However, for the more than 25 million people in the United States who report speaking English less than very well and are classified as having limited English proficiency (LEP), access to the most basic aspect of communication—a common language with the provider—may be limited.

It is easy to imagine how language barriers may compromise the quality and safety of health care. Research consistently demonstrates that physicians falter in many aspects of communication, compromising health care quality and lowering patient satisfaction even when they speak the same language.  Quality and satisfaction gaps stemming from poor communication are only magnified when a language barrier is present. Health care safety requires understanding instructions, again an impossible task if the patient and provider do not share a common language. 

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Sep 6 2013

Is the Brain Ready for Personalized Medicine? Studies Suggest Not Quite Yet.

Jason Karlawish, MD, is a professor of medicine, medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of Penn’s Neurodegenerative Disease Ethics and Policy Program. He is the recipient of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Award in Health Policy Research.


“Prescribe the right drug to the right patient at the right time” is not a new medical practice, but when a biomarker—that is, a measure of disease pathophysiology—or a gene makes this decision, that is a radically new medical practice. The promise of personalized medicine is that biomarker and gene driven algorithms will do much of the work of medicine. By predicting patients’ future health and the outcomes of an intervention, they will guide what doctors recommend to their patients. Like the theory of evidence-based medicine, personalized medicine promises a more objective, efficient and precise medical practice.

To date, personalized medicine has largely flourished “below the neck,” that is, in the care of patients with common medical diseases, particularly cancer and cardiovascular disease. In the last two decades though, the National Institutes of Health, the pharmaceutical industry, and researchers have invested substantial time and money in research such as the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (called “ADNI”) dedicated to discovering and validating the biomarkers and genes that predict whether a brain will fail. This research is beginning to reshape how we talk about the diagnosis and treatment of the aging brain, an organ that is more and more, like hearts and bones, regarded as an organ “at risk.” As a result, clinicians, ethicists, and health care policy-makers are beginning to ask how we should practice personalized medicine for the seemingly healthy brain that is at risk for neurodegenerative dementias such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration.

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Aug 5 2013

Ode to My Favorite Gadget: A Heart ECG at Your Fingertips!

Kathleen Hickey, EdD, FNP-BC, ANP-BC, FAAN, is a nurse practitioner in cardiac electrophysiology, an assistant professor at the Columbia University School of Nursing, and an alumna of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Nurse Faculty Scholars program. Hickey is president of the International Society of Nurses in Genetics.


As a cardiovascular nurse practitioner, there have been many instances when a patient has reported an intermittent and sporadic racing of the heart, chest pressure or other vague symptom. If I had only an ECG (electrocardiogram) when that was happening, I thought to myself on many occasions.

But as most practitioners know, in the real world such episodes rarely occur while the patient is right in front of them. Rather, symptoms occur when the patient is at home, at work, has just left the provider’s office, or is on vacation!

The widespread use of smart phones has resulted in a plethora of gadgets, gizmos, and associated health care applications—but one I can’t live without is the AliveCor heart recorder and application that is now compatible with the iPhone.

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Jul 25 2013

Today: Twitter Chat on How to Be an Engaged Patient

Join U.S. News & World Report this afternoon for a Twitter chat about how patients in hospitals can take ownership of their care and become actively engaged and informed about their treatment.

Among the experts participating in the chat is Marianne Weiss, DNSc, RN, a grantee of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative. Weiss is a researcher focusing on improving patients’ experience with hospital discharge and the role nurses play in discharge preparation and the discharge transition. Her research on patient perceptions of discharge teaching, readiness for discharge, and coping difficulty at home following hospital discharge have highlighted the importance of inclusion of patient voice to improve discharge experiences.

She will join representatives from the National Patient Safety Foundation, the Patient Advocate Foundation, and CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen, among others, for the chat.

Date: Thursday, July 25
Time: 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET
Hashtag: #PatientChat
Moderator: @USNewsHealth
Experts: @INQRIprogram, @RWJF_HumanCap, @theNPSF, @NPAF_tweets, @TrishaTorrey, @tedeytan, @elizcohencnn

Learn more about the chat.

Nov 12 2012

Study: Long Nursing Shifts Mean Burnout, Patient Dissatisfaction

Twelve-hour nursing shifts cause higher levels of burnout and negatively affect patient care, according to a study published this month in Health Affairs.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that more than 80 percent of nurses working shifts of eight or more hours were satisfied with the scheduling practices at their hospitals, but “the percentages of nurses reporting burnout and an intention to leave the job increased incrementally as shift length increased.” Nurses who worked shifts longer than 8-9 hours were up to 2.5 times more likely to have burnout and job dissatisfaction.

Long nursing shifts also have consequences for patients. In hospitals with high proportions of nurses working long shifts, patients perceived worse care, both overall and in nursing-specific factors. Patients in these hospitals reported that nurses didn’t communicate well or respond quickly, and said their pain was not well controlled. For many patient outcomes, dissatisfaction increased as the proportion of nurses working longer shifts increased, the study says.

The researchers hypothesize that nurses may underestimate the impact of working long shifts because long shifts mean working fewer days a week, which may be appealing.

Accrediting bodies should consider policies for nurses—like those already in place for medical residents—limiting the number of hours they can work a week, the research team suggests, and boards of nursing and nursing management should monitor nurses’ hours and overtime, and promote a workplace culture that facilitates manageable work hours.

What do you think? Are long shifts good for nurses or patients? Is there a way to help nurses keep flexible schedules without compromising their job satisfaction and patient care? Register below to leave a comment.

Read the study abstract.

Jun 4 2012

Does Fear of Being Labeled "Difficult" Prevent Patients from Expressing Themselves to Doctors?

Dominick L. Frosch, PhD, is an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Health & Society Scholars program, and the recipient of an RWJF Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. He is an associate investigator at the Department of Health Services Research at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute, and associate professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Frosch recently led a study, published in Health Affairs, which examined the reasons patients are reluctant to engage in shared decision making. This post is part of a series on the RWJF Health & Society Scholars program, running in conjunction with the program’s tenth anniversary. The RWJF Health & Society Scholars program is designed to build the nation’s capacity for research, leadership and policy change to address the multiple determinants of population health.

Dominick Frosch

Human Capital Blog: Why did you decide to look at this issue?

Dominick Frosch: The role of patients is really changing and, especially over the last decade, we’ve seen a growing emphasis on patient participation in clinical decision making. It’s especially prominent in what we call preference-sensitive care, where patients have multiple potential options for treatment, but the evidence doesn’t identify a clear, superior choice. Making a decision in these cases involves considering the trade-offs between benefits and risks. There’s growing emphasis that patients should have a role to play in these preference-sensitive situations because they have to live with the outcomes of the care they receive.

Until now, we have implicitly assumed that providing patients with information is sufficient to facilitate shared decision making. In reality we know quite little about how patients perceive the communication tasks that are necessary for shared decision making to happen in a clinical consultation, and our objective with this study was to develop a better understanding of that.

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Mar 5 2011

RWJF Clinical Scholar Alumnus Talks About "Business Side" of Patient Treatment

Imagine this: you’ve had an accident and totaled your relatively inexpensive, extremely reliable car. The insurance company offers to replace it with a luxury car, at no extra cost. You know the luxury car may not last as long or work as well, but it’s the newest thing on the market. Do you take it?

Consumers sometimes think of their health care and health insurance in this way, said RWJF Clinical Scholar alumnus David Penson, M.D., M.P.H. (1997-1999), a professor of urologic surgery and medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He recently spoke with Larry Van Horn, of Forbes’ Second Opinion blog, about the “business side of patient care.”

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