|Authors||Zhang, W., Deng, Z., Hong, Z., Evans, R.D., Ma, J. and Zhang, H.|
Background: With the rise in popularity of Web 2.0 technologies, the sharing of patient experiences about physicians on online forums and medical websites has become a common practice. However, negative comments posted by patients are considered to be more influential by other patients and physicians than those that are satisfactory.
Objective: The aim of this study was to analyze negative comments posted online about physicians and to identify possible solutions to improve patient satisfaction, as well as their relationship with physicians.
Methods: A Java-based program was developed to collect patient comments on the Good Doctor website, one of the most popular online health communities in China. A total of 3012 negative comments concerning 1029 physicians (mean 2.93 [SD 4.14]) from 5 highly ranked hospitals in Beijing were extracted for content analysis. An initial coding framework was constructed with 2 research assistants involved in the codification.
Results: Analysis, based on the collected 3012 negative comments, revealed that unhappy patients are not alike and that their complaints cover a wide range of issues experienced throughout the whole process of medical consultation. Among them, physicians in Obstetrics and Gynecology (606/3012, 20.12%; P=.001) and Internal Medicine (487/3012, 16.17%; P=.80) received the most negative comments. For negative comments per physician, Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (mean 5.72, P<.001) and Andrology (mean 5, P=.02) ranked the highest. Complaints relating to insufficient medical consultation duration (577/3012, 19.16%), physician impatience (527/3012, 17.50%), and perceived poor therapeutic effect (370/3012, 12.28%) received the highest number of negative comments. Specific groups of people, such as those accompanying older patients or children, traveling patients, or very important person registrants, were shown to demonstrate little tolerance for poor medical service.
Conclusions: Analysis of online patient complaints provides an innovative approach to understand factors associated with patient dissatisfaction. The outcomes of this study could be of benefit to hospitals or physicians seeking to improve their delivery of patient-centered services. Patients are expected to be more understanding of overloaded physicians’ workloads, which are impacted by China’s stretched medical resources, as efforts are made to build more harmonious physician-patient relationships.