If you are reading this article, then you likely have seen the surveys. The brief one question surveys asking about specific perceptions you may have experienced as a patient.
These questions ask your innermost thoughts at your most vulnerable moments as a patient. The subtle perceptions you felt went unnoticed, the ones you thought were unimportant. In reality, those perceptions are quite important. What you think determines your clinical outcomes. After all, a patient outcome is nothing more than the sum of his or her clinical decisions, each accumulating over time to produce the result.
Decisions derive from what we think, like cause and effect. Our thoughts create our clinical outcomes. And what we think internally reflects what we see in health policy. Healthcare is funny like that. It is one great fractal. Personal health mirrors health policy. Nowhere is this truer than the opioid crisis.
It has incurred significant clinical and economic toll on the United States. The human impact of the crisis has adversely affected communities and individual patient care. We see the impact on the data. Opioid overdoses continue to rise and more potent forms of illicit heroin and fentanyl flood the streets. The trends affect all aspects of healthcare, including the patient-physician encounter, which is a microcosm of the social ramifications of the crisis.
But data alone does not capture the perceptions that arise between physicians and patients during an encounter. There is a far more subtle interplay. Physicians are concerned about clinical and legal consequences that may arise if they prescribe pain medication to patients who may have developed a dependency or are outright abusing the medication. Patients are concerned that their physicians will unnecessarily reduce or outright discontinue their medication, affecting their quality of life and their activities or daily living. As a result, there is an inherent lack of trust that builds between the physician and the patient.
These are major concerns. They affect the very nature of the patient-physician relationship. But health data do not account for these perceptions. To evaluate their impact on broader data trends, we propose a series of short one to two question surveys to glean specific patient perceptions that arise during the patient encounter when discussing opioids and pain management.
How will we do this?
Every week we will release a survey asking one or two questions on the perceptions patient experience during the patient encounter.
We will stratify the responses per county and state and cross-reference them with existing data to evaluate how clinical perceptions affect or are affected by trends in clinical data.
When will the questions be released?
We will release each question on a Sunday starting October 9th. After that, a new question will appear every Sunday for the next 10-12 weeks, excluding holiday weekends.
How can we get involved?
Foremost, take part in the survey. What you think matters. How you feel during a patient encounter is important. Your perceptions determine clinical outcomes.
Once you answer the questions, please share the survey link and repost it across all social media feeds. The more responses we get, the stronger the survey response data.
What are some questions we can expect to see?
- If you present a clinical study to your physician, will he or she discuss it with you?
- How tense do you get when discussing opioids or harm reduction with your provider?
- How tense does your provider get when discussing opioids or harm reduction?
- Do you feel like coverage of the opioid epidemic influences your provider by news articles or media outlets?
- Do you feel like the DEA exerts pressure on your provider to make certain clinical decisions?
- If you report a change in your pain presentation, will your provider believe you?
- Do you believe your provider’s initial instinct when discussing pain or substance abuse is to trust or distrust you?
- Do you believe your provider orders a UDS or imaging test more for legal liability or clinical need?
- Has your provider ever made a clinical decision that you believe was more to protect him or her legally than for your clinical care?
Which questions are ready for me to answer?