Doctors are doing a great job. The distribution of scores is skewed toward scores of 9 and higher. Having an average score of anything less than 9.0 out of 10 is, relative to other doctors, a pretty low score.
Medical systems — hospitals, medical schools, etc. — can focus on their doctors’ absolute scores (how happy patients are) or on relative scores (how high doctors’ scores are compared to their peers). The latter can be problematic.
Doctors who get a 9 out of 10 from all their patients are giving great medical care. But compared to most doctors, that 9 out of 10 is actually a low score! A doctor with a score in the high 8s might be only at the 25th percentile (ie, a score lower than 75 percent of other doctors). But the great majority of the doctors’ patients may still be extremely pleased with the doctor and the care that doctor provides.
It is interesting to consider how administrators of a large medical center should react to having doctors that average among the 25th percentile of doctors. Should those administrators be concerned that their doctors are doing a poor job relative to other doctors or should they be optimistic that patients love these doctors, that the average score is still 9.0 out of 10? I think focusing on the 25th percentile and saying the doctor is doing poorly is wrong and will leave hardworking doctors feeling demoralized. Letting the doctor know that the average patient gives them a score of 9 out of 10 is likely to be more encouraging, but still allows recognition that there is room for improvement.
Administrators probably realize that having even a small fraction of unhappy patients isn’t good for a health system. Unhappy patients are a risk: they may communicate their bad feelings to other potential patients, but more importantly, they are unhappy. Our raison d’etre is to get patients well and happy!
Settling for a 9.0 out of 10 (knowing that it means that 1 in every 10 or so people may have been very dissatisfied) isn’t good enough for any doctor, especially when we know it means there are patients who were very unhappy with their care. We strive to make every patient completely satisfied with his or her medical experience. Hopefully patient feedback services like DrScore.com will help doctors achieve that goal.