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Health care consumers considering a physician at University of Utah Health Care now have an additional tool— online access to the system’s patient satisfaction scores and comments. The rankings are based on more than 40,000 patient surveys and evaluate physicians on nine questions.
“It’s clear patients and consumers making health care decisions want online access to trusted reviews from their peers. The ratings give visitors a powerful tool to make informed decisions about our physicians and providers,” said Thomas Miller, M.D., chief medical officer for University of Utah Health Care.
The rankings use a five-star system similar to most consumer rating sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, and HealthGrades. The number of stars a physician receives per question is calculated using the mean score provided on the survey. Currently, the system’s lowest physician ranking is 3.9 out of 5 stars with the next lowest at 4.2. The system’s overall physician satisfaction ranking is 4.7.
Comments are reviewed before being posted and only edited to remove information that might identify a patient or be considered libelous or slanderous. “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 Miller. He noted that 99.5 percent of all physician comments received so far have been posted unedited.
The health system’s patient satisfaction survey is administered by Press Ganey, an Indiana-based company that provides research and business consulting for more than 50 percent of the hospitals in the United States. The survey includes nine questions that ask patients to rate their physicians on the following factors:
Miller said the idea of posting the data came after evaluating physician reviews on independent Web sites. Many of these sites typically provide a small number of unverified, occasionally slanderous, patient reviews. “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 publicly available,” he said.
Brian Gresh, senior director of interactive marketing and web, and Chrissy Daniels, director of strategic initiatives, worked closely with Miller to make the case to the University’s clinical faculty to make the information publicly available online. “It took some convincing, but when you look at the trends across service industries, it’s clear that patients want—and more importantly expect—access to data. Health care has lagged as an industry in its efforts at transparency, and this is an important first step in delivering actionable data to our customers,” said Gresh.
Both Gresh and Daniels point to research that shows more than 70 percent of consumers trust web reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family, but only if there are multiple reviews and only if the reviews are believed to be authentic. They also cite the growing number of consumers who say they’ve used social media to access consumer reviews of physicians and treatments.
Daniels says new physicians won’t have patient satisfaction scores posted until after six months of employment, and a provider must have a minimum of 30 surveys to be posted. “It’s important to remember what makes this information valuable to the consumer is the authenticity and volume of reviews. We think it’s important that our providers have enough surveys returned to make the information meaningful,” she said.
To view patient reviews and learn more about the rating system, visit http://healthcare.utah.edu/fad.