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Fuqua Faculty Conversations

Bill Boulding and Rick Staelin

Bill Boulding & Rick Staelin on Patient Satisfaction and Health Care Outcomes

March 13, 2013

Bill Boulding and Rick Staelin

“Patient Satisfaction and Health Care Outcomes: Our journey into the quality of health care”

During this session, you will learn:

    • Why many doctors discount patient satisfaction measures
    • What these patient measures actually tell us about the quality of health care
    • Next steps to improve the quality of care

The session with Professors Boulding and Staelin took place in April 2013.

View Dean Boulding’s Bio View Professor Staelin’s Bio (PDF)

Pre-recorded Video

Live Session Recording


  1. With regard to the patient satisfaction survey responses acquired by smart phone/email vs. live telephone call or traditional paper survey, since a large share of health care resources/costs are utilized by the elderly population, the data might be affected by a smaller percentage of this population using smart phone technology and electronic communication in their responses. Also, certain procedures are more likely to be performed on elderly patients who may not access electronic technology for their feedback, and so the type of response for some medial procedures may be skewed in comparison to other procedures which are typically done on a younger, more technology-inclined population.

  2. As an abdominal organ transplant surgeon for almost 30 years, I observed that patient satisfaction seemed to depend much more on graft function than provider humanism. Empathy, respect, caring and compassion were near-universal traits of the medical team that cared for these oftentimes challenging organ failure patients. However, not all patients were satisfied.

    The bottom line was and is:
    Excellent transplant function = Satisfied patient
    Poor transplant function = Dissatisfied patient

    Similarly, when transplant rejection occurs:
    Reversal of rejection = Satisfied patient
    Failure to reverse rejection = Dissatisfied patient

    Although a patient’s satisfaction with his or her provider might be at times an indicator of quality in health care, health care outcome as measured by rejection-free graft survival is a far stronger determinate of transplant patient satisfaction than any traits of the provider.

  3. Deanne DiPasqua

    I think one reason some physicians discount patient satisfaction measures is because the questions measure behaviors that reflect humanism such as empathy, respect, caring, integrity and service. Unfortunately in the 1970’s and 1980’s medical schools were primarily looking for candidates that were scientifically proficient. The traits of caring and compassion were lower priority or not a priority at all. Fortunately the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, founded in 1988, has brought humanism in medicine back to life.

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