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Gold, incentives and meh

Modern surgeries improve patient satisfaction claims study

By Gareth Iacobucci

Improvements to a surgery's environment can reduce patient anxiety and improve overall patient satisfaction, new research has shown.

Aesthetic changes were also found to improve patients' perception of the communication they have with their GP.

The research, led by Dr Gillian Rice of Bedminster Family Practice in Bristol, compared patients' and staff's views of the old and new surroundings when moving to a new premises.

GP partners at the practice had a significant input into the design of the new building, which also includes a pharmacy, art gallery, accommodation and a restaurant.

The study revealed that the new surroundings made patients feel less anxious before and after their consultation, and more satisfied with the communication between them and their GP.

Both patients and staff expressed a greater level of satisfaction with the new reception and waiting areas, with patients also expressing satisfaction with new consulting rooms, which were designed to look homely rather than clinical.

More than 1,000 patients from the practice took part in interviews and questionnaires as part of the survey, with practice staff also surveyed before and after the move.

Dr Rice said: 'What the findings show is that the environment we create in GP surgery and other primary care buildings matters a great deal to people, subconsciously as well as consciously.

‘Attractive, informal and spacious surroundings not only make patients less anxious, but may also encourage more open communication between doctors and patients – and that can produce real health benefits.'

The research is published in the July issue of British Journal of General Practice.

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