Patient Experience with Primary Providers: Good and Getting Better

The Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP) last Wednesday released its 13th statewide patient experience survey, which showed that primary care experiences for Massachusetts commercially insured patients continue to improve. MHQP said that the good results come despite the backdrop of increased out-of-pocket expenses and significant uncertainty in the healthcare system.

The results show increases over the past three years across all of the survey’s topic areas, including communication, integration of care, knowledge of patient, adult behavioral health, organizational access, self-management support, office staff, pediatric preventive care, child development, and willingness to recommend.

MHQP said the good reports from patients “come at a time of shifting policy and health benefits in healthcare, including the uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act and the proliferation of high-deductible plans which have shifted out-of-pocket expenses to consumers.”

The strongest steady gains in recent years have been made in how often primary care providers ask adult patients questions related to behavioral health. MHQP added behavioral health to the patient experience survey in 2013, with questions about whether or not primary care providers asked their patients about feeling depressed, feeling stressed, or if they are experiencing problems with alcohol, drugs, or a mental or emotional illness. The mean composite score in this category for all adult practices increased from 50.8% in 2013 to 61.7% in 2017.

The survey was fielded in the spring of 2017 and sampled patients from 866 adult and 321 pediatric primary care practices statewide, representing more than 4,000 primary care providers. The 2017 survey was fielded with commercially-insured patients. In 2018, MHQP will also be surveying patients enrolled in MassHealth as part of a new contract MHQP signed with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.