Patients and consumers at the University of Utah Health Care are the first beneficiaries of online physician reviews and comments, according to a public statement by the hospital system. Physicians are scored using a five-star system (1–5) for nine questions with the mean score representing a physician’s ranking. Their scores are only released after they have completed six months of employment.
The willingness of University of Utah Health Care to make its rankings available most likely has to do with the high score its physicians have received, the two lowest scores being 3.9 and 4.2. Overall satisfaction with the system is 4.7.
The data come from patient satisfaction surveys of more than 40,000 respondents conducted by the Indiana-based research firm, Press Ganey. The nine-question survey focuses on as many areas:
• Likelihood of recommending doctor
• Confidence in doctor
• Time spent with doctor
• Doctor’s use of clear language
• Doctor’s effort to include patient in decisions
• Doctor’s concern for questions and worries
• Doctor’s explanation of condition/problem
• Wait time at clinic
• Doctor’s friendliness and courtesy
Patients receive an electronic Medical Practice survey via email several days after their appointment to answer questions on a scale from “Very Poor” to “Very Good” and provide comments. The scores of physicians are only released after they have completed six months of employment.
While comments are reviewed and edited to eliminate personally identifiable information or defamatory statements, they appear online largely unfiltered. Last year, 99.5% of comments were posted unedited. “The majority of our patients are very generous with their comments, clearly articulating the value we provide. We understand transparency is the expectation for online rankings and critical comments are not edited or removed,” said Thomas Miller, MD, CMO for the hospital system in a public statement.
The move to publish physician reviews and comments online follows the recognition of a lack of verified information in other web reviews. “It’s clear patients and consumers making health care decisions want online access to trusted reviews from their peer,” noted Miller. The challenge, he added, was finding data and developing a robust system. “We recognized we were collecting hundreds of reviews each year for each of our 1,200 physicians, but only sharing the information internally. Most physician review sites have fewer than a dozen reviews. It made sense to make our data publically available.”
Efforts to increase transparency in healthcare are beginning to gain momentum. Last week, the Indiana Health Information Exchange released its first report of clinical quality measure (CQM) performance by participating providers in its Quality Health First Program. That same week, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced enhancements to its Health IT Dashboard, which now includes information by state and county about payment made through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.