Are “happiness buttons” good for health care?

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  • Margaret deMello MSW says:

    As a research method I think it may not have the reliability of a self declared statement on a questionnaire. I would say this idea is too expensive as well. Thirdly, I’m not sure you need to worry about what is making patients happy, unless you are measuring a new program. Fourth, the buttons dont’ tell you what is making a patient ‘unhappy’. Fifth, happiness is not what you should try to measure. Sixth, people don’t want to wear unhappy buttons if they have to attend other services. They would worry about the effect of the buttons on other patients and on staff. This would affect the reliability of your survey. You should not be targeting individual care workers or doctors. You should be aiming for health care ‘accountability’. I’ve not seen any satisfaction questionnaires concerning quality of care in my local hospital nor in any clinics in Vancouver. But, with internet technology, it should be extremely cost efficient and easy to measure a patients satisfaction…and impact of medical intervention of any kind. These surveys can be made brief and easy as well as informative and reliable. There are some very serious quality of care problems in Vancouver, probably elsewhere. They should be researched professionally and appropriately.

  • Ed Weiss says:

    I think there’s another area in which the use of a simple metric like HappyOrNot can make a big difference: patient satisfaction with a particular treatment. Too often we are encouraged in our practices to use measurements and scales that have been developed for research purposes, not for everyday clinical use. (Think about questionnaires for depression, anxiety, pain, headaches, prostatism — you name it.) In many cases, having a more limited menu of options from which to choose can give us a better sense of whether a treatment is helping — or harming. I like using tools like the Clinical Global Improvement score for this very reason. A HappyOrNot terminal would make this even easier!


Dafna Izenberg


Dafna is the Managing editor of special projects at Maclean’s Magazine.

Seema Marwaha


Seema Marwaha is a general internal medicine physician, educator, researcher and journalist in Toronto.

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