Finding a four-star doctor? Like finding four-star pad thai
Searching for a doctor in Chicago may soon be as easy as searching for the best Thai food on your block. At least that's the idea at Advocate Health Care. The health system's website will now contain patient star ratings on physician profiles, along with name, specialties and contact information.
The Downers Grove-based health system is joining a pool of hospital systems who list their Yelp-like reviews next to each qualifying physician's name. Physicians need at least 30 responses and at least three comments for a star rating to appear on their profile.
So why not just use, say, Yelp?
Unlike the popular ratings website, on which consumers can post freely pending submission approval, Advocate will use The Clinician and Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CGCAHPS) patient satisfactory survey to measure patient perceptions of care delivered by a physician or nurse practitioner in an office setting. In this way, it can ensure that responses come from actual patients, Advocate says.
The ratings, which only include patient reviews of office visits, are calculated based on how patients respond to a list of questions they receive in the mail one week after their visit. Questions include: Did the provider explain things in a way that was easy to understand? Listen carefully to you? Give you easy to understand instruction about your health questions or concerns? Seem to know the important information about your medical history? Show respect for what you had to say? Spend enough time with you? The star rating corresponds to how favorably patients respond.
About 20 hospitals and health systems nationwide have already rolled out similar programs using the CGCAHPS survey. In 2012, the University of Utah Health Care system became one of the first to publicly post data from patient satisfaction surveys.
"We are confident that this level of transparency is the right thing to do as we provide consumers the information they expect and deserve as they are choosing a provider," said Dr. Vince Bufalino, president of Advocate Medical Group.
According to Bufalino, Advocate has been surveying patients and reviewing their comments for years and using the information internally so the physicians are already accustomed to the process.
"We are very comfortable with the fact that the majority of our ratings and reviews are, and will be, very positive," said Bufalino.
And the bad reviews?
Physicians will not be penalized should they receive them but if negative reviews become a pattern, specific issues will be addressed, Bufalino said. He declined to say whether this would involve withholding bonus compensation or termination.
Transparency is increasingly becoming a valued commodity for health care consumers and patient reviews carry more weight as they become available. Forty-five percent of consumers have viewed provider ratings/reviews online, 31% have selected a doctor based on a positive review, and 32% have avoided a doctor based on a negative review, according to National Research Corporation.
In response to the growing demand, San Francisco-based Yelp partnered with New York-based ProPublica to provide a selection of government data points like fines and patient survival rate on hospitals, nursing homes and dialysis clinics on their Yelp profiles. Outcomes data are not part of Advocate's profile.
"Certainly if this notion of fake news continues to be pervasive I think people are going to be more and more suspect," said Kenneth T. Hertz, Principal MGMA Healthcare Consulting Group.
"If my plan has changed and I am personally responsible for more out-of-pocket costs of my healthcare, I'm going to want to know and I'm going to be more demanding and I'm going to be pickier," he adds.
"If systems post that information, it can't get much easier than that."
"Finding a four-star doctor? Like finding four-star pad thai" originally appeared in Crain's Chicago Business.
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