MHQP Releases Results of Only Statewide Survey of Patient Experiences in Primary Care

(January, 2019)

For the 14th year, MHQP has released the results of its annual survey assessing patient experiences in primary care. This is the only publicly-reported statewide survey of patient experiences in Massachusetts.

The results of the survey are posted on, MHQP’s consumer-facing website. One of the “best-kept secrets” in Massachusetts healthcare, this site provides detailed patient experience results for primary care offices throughout the state, offering consumers the ability to compare performance across practices. This unique resource can help patients and families find the primary care clinicians that best suit their needs.

This year, the site identifies the practices that were recognized as winners of the first annual MHQP Patient Experience Awards. Awards were given to the adult and pediatric practices that performed highest on the survey in each of nine performance categories, as well as an overall performance category determined by the practices with the most best-in-class results across multiple categories. The list of winning practices can be found here.

Beyond identifying standout performance at the practice level, the aggregate results give an overarching view of patient experience performance across all of the state’s primary care practices, providing a high-level sense of potential areas for improvement. This year’s results in the survey’s major categories are:

Category Adult – Mean Score Pediatrics – Mean Score
Patient-Provider Communications 94.6% 97.3%
How Well Providers Know Their Patients 89.7% 93.8%
Office Staff Professional Excellence 89.4% 92.5%
Ease of Access to Care 87.0% 93.1%
Coordinating Patient Care 86.8% 88.6%
Assessment of Patient Behavioral Health Issues 71.1% N/A
Empowering Patient Self Care 62.6% 50.3%
Assessment of Child Development N/A 79.3%
Pediatric Preventative Care N/A 75.2

In addition to the core survey items, for the first time this year MHQP conducted an extensive analysis of the free-text responses that patients provided to open-ended questions. This feedback in the patients’ own words provides context for a deeper understanding of both positive and negative patient experiences.

Positive comments associated with high scores were most commonly related to a doctor’s caring/compassionate attitude and the patient feeling respected and listened to. Here are some examples of typical positive comments:

  • “[My doctor] always greets me warmly with an attitude that communicates he’s glad to see me. I have no problem speaking frankly and directly with him about any problem.”
  • “[My doctor] is easy to talk with, asks probing questions in a nonjudgmental way and never rushes me. I feel he has my best interest at heart.”
  • “[My doctor] is knowledgeable, up to date, allows me to be an active participant in my own care, listens and is kind.”

In contrast, negative comments associated with low scores were mostly about disrespect, poor listening, blaming or judging, and an insensitive demeanor. Less than 1% of patients left negative comments. Here are some examples of typical negative comments:

  • “I walked out of the last appointment when she said, ‘You are a BAD patient.’ Rather than assisting me in taking care of my own health she berated me and scolded me.”
  • “I am an inanimate object and he is there to triage my problem and pass it on to someone else. I have no voice, no input. I have never felt so objectified.”
  • “I may not have a medical degree, but I know my body better than any doctor and she NEVER listened to me.”

“These comments provide rich opportunities for providers to better understand what actions can affect a patient’s experience,” said Barbra Rabson, MHQP’s President and CEO. “We hope this critical feedback will help primary care practices build positive and constructive relationships between providers and patients, which can help improve both patient and provider experiences.”

About MHQP’s Statewide Patient Experience Survey

Unlike satisfaction surveys that ask about general perceptions, MHQP’s patient experience survey asks people what actually happened when they or their children needed primary care. The survey fielded in the spring of 2018 sampled commercially-insured patients from 842 adult and 343 pediatric primary care practices statewide, representing over 4,000 primary care providers. MHQP received over 60,000 responses to this survey. First conducted in 2005, the survey asks patients to rate the quality of certain doctor-patient interactions and other aspects of care using a nationally developed standard survey instrument.

The following organizations invested resources to support MHQP’s 2018 Patient Experience Survey and sustain statewide transparency of patient experience in Massachusetts: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Fallon Health, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Tufts Health Plan. In addition, the following provider organizations added their financial support: Cooley Dickinson PHO, Lowell General PHO, Mount Auburn Cambridge IPA, New England Quality Care Alliance, Northeast PHO, Partners HealthCare System Inc., Southcoast Health Network, Steward Healthcare System, The Pediatric Physicians’ Organization at Children’s Hospital Boston, Tri-county Medical Associates, and UMass Memorial Healthcare.

About MHQP

Since 1995, MHQP has been leveraging its unique position as an independent coalition of key stakeholder groups (providers, payers and patients) in Massachusetts healthcare to help provider organizations, health plans and policy makers improve the quality of patient care experiences throughout the state.

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