The overall message from the study was highly positive for the osteopathic profession; in private practices, over 96% patients were satisfied, and 69% of the most widely held expectations were being delivered well, many extremely well. Osteopaths appeared to be proficient in providing clear explanation and specialist expertise, an empathetic relationship and shared decision-making, as well as a flexible service and good value for money.
The study has identified the gaps between expectations and delivery of care, which have a negative effect on outcomes of care. These findings can be used to improve the quality of care provided by osteopaths. The osteopathic profession can set priorities for improving care: through the regulator via the standards, through educators via training, and within osteopathic practices as part of service delivery.
The findings should help to guide patients about what is reasonable to expect when they seek private osteopathic care. The findings also indicate to osteopaths the type of information that patients consider as important and relevant to the patient’s perception of the quality of their care.
Patients can confidently expect that they will be treated professionally and with respect, listened to, and provided with a good explanation of their problem. They can expect private osteopathic services to be flexible, good value for money, and deliver a professional and skilled therapeutic process. Patients may need to understand that certain expectations are hard to meet, such as an immediate perceptible improvement in symptoms. Patients should not necessarily expect treatment to be completely painless or to be provided with electrotherapy within their osteopathic treatment. Patients can however expect that most of their expectations will be met when they seek osteopathic care.