Here’s DrScore’s latest press release on why physicians and patients should be thankful for online doctor ratings:
Three Reasons Physicians (and Patients) Can Be Thankful for
Online Doctor Ratings
DrScore: ‘Online rating is here to stay … a few reasons why you can accept it with grace.’
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Nov. 16, 2010) – Online doctor ratings continue to generate controversy among physicians, and in the news and blogosphere. But proponents and opponents do agree on one thing: The ability to rate your doctor online is here to stay. Thus, the month of Thanksgiving is a great time to highlight three reasons why doctors and patients should be thankful for this method of providing feedback.
“Rating your doctor or searching for a doctor online is the 2010 version of asking your neighbor for or providing your neighbor with a recommendation — they expand our ability to find out about other people’s experiences,” says patient satisfaction expert Steve Feldman, M.D, the founder of DrScore.com. “Online rating is here to stay — here’s a few reasons why you can accept it with grace.”
No. 1: Every aspect of the clinical encounter is important for patients and physicians.
Yes, the technical medical process — whether the doctor is making the right diagnosis and prescribing the right treatment — is critical to the medical experience. But if the patient sees a shabby office, has a long wait, or feels like the physician is uncaring and dismissive, it can affect the patient’s experience and how well he or she responds to the prescribed treatment.
“I receive quarterly reports that provide constructive feedback on every aspect of the clinical encounter — from parking access to nursing to the actual visit. This allows me to concentrate on areas in which I may need to improve upon,” says Andrew D. Lee, M.D., a dermatologist in private practice in Elkin, N.C. “Early in my career, I received a report in which several patients commented that I did not allow them to participate in developing their treatment plans. Because of this, I immediately began involving my patients in choosing topical vehicles and discussing the benefits and risks of oral medications I prescribed.”
No. 2: Online ratings provide more medical transparency.
Patient access to meaningful information about health care quality is important to highlight both the positive and the negative aspects of health care, according to Dr. Feldman. “Doctors have nothing to fear and much to gain from transparency. It allows patients to see the strong work of physicians and helps physicians do what they want to do most, which is making the medical experience even better.”
Much of the controversy surrounds what should be considered “meaningful information.” For example, one-sided derogatory comments by patients who may have had a negative medical experience are not as meaningful as scientifically validated data that is collected and analyzed. “Constructive feedback is useful, but comments that are hurtful can do more harm than good, especially if they are taken out of context or are one-sided,” says Dr. Lee. “I believe one of DrScore’s strengths is that people who search for a physician on this site only have access to the doctor’s averaged scores, which they may use to objectively compare with other rated physicians.”
Still, doctors may be hesitant to ask patients to rate them online because they are concerned that an isolated criticism from an anonymous source will skew the score. Dr. Feldman feels strongly that the importance of allowing patients to remain anonymous outweighs any negatives. “Anonymity allows patients a greater degree of freedom to say what they really think,” he says. “If patients had to identify themselves, some of those who had something negative to say might feel stifled or intimidated. But it’s important to note that when a doctor has just a few ratings — particularly if they only have one rating — the overall rating may not be truly representative.”
That is why it is important for doctors to ask all their patients to contribute feedback online — and for all patients to consider rating their doctors, according to Dr. Lee. “The more feedback you receive, the more valuable that feedback is, and the more truly representative a doctor’s score is. This is a benefit to both doctors and patients.”
No. 3: Obtaining and utilizing patient feedback effectively will help control costs and improve health care.
Patient satisfaction has an impact on overall health care costs, according to Dr. Feldman. “Patients who are more satisfied with their doctors are more likely to go in for care or see their doctors at their office before they get sicker and have to be treated in a more expensive setting, such as the emergency room,” he says. “In addition, they are more likely to take their prescribed medications and follow other physician recommendations.”
Online doctor rating provides physicians with a valuable means of assessing the quality of the services they provide. In addition, they provide patients with the ability to be active participants in their health care experience by voicing their opinions and choosing their physicians on the basis of more objective criteria than traditional advertising and word-of-mouth.
“Patients deserve to be treated by physicians who provide excellent medical care in a compassionate and respectful manner,” Dr. Lee says. “The doctor rating websites that provide fair and balanced feedback are important in ensuring continuous quality improvement in our clinical practices.”