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When we look at doctors who have a lot of ratings, it isn’t unusual to see lots of high ratings and an occasional low rating.  The average score of these doctors is very high.  But if you took a whole lot of doctors like that and they only had one rating each, the average would still be the same, but there would be a lot of doctors with one 10 and a few with one zero.  The score of those doctors who have just one low rating obviously isn’t representative of their practice.  What could be done about this?  Well the answer suggested by some people is not to show ratings when there are few or to get rid of doctor ratings online altogether.  We think that people are smart enough to interpret the scores if they are told how many ratings there are.  When doctors have just one low score, rather than throwing it out or hiding it, we encourage them to ask a few patients to put ratings in.  That way, a more representative score is there for people to see.  Moreover, we should always keep in mind that the detailed feedback that comes with a low score can be a gift to the doctor, giving the doctor valuable feedback on the concerns of one of their very few unhappy patients, hopefully the kind of feedback that will help the doctor not have unhappy patients in the future.

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Researchers from the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have found that beneficiaries of Medicare who live in areas with a “larger supply of doctors” are not any more likely to be satisfied with the physician care they receive or the time they spend with their doctors than Medicare recipients who live in regions with smaller pools of physicians. Additionally, the study “found no significant differences in access to specialists or availability of tests.

This isn’t surprising.  At DrScore, we’ve found that seeing a caring, friendly doctor is the critical factor in patient satisfaction.  Having more doctors won’t make patients happier, but having more empathetic doctors who show how much they care about their patients does.

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t’s great to see that people are accessing DrScore research and hopefully putting it to use to make sure patients get the best possible medical care.

Dear Dr Feldman:

Re: Your paper published in Patient Related Outcome Measures

I wanted to let you know that your paper, “Patient satisfaction with obstetricians and gynecologists compared with other specialties: analysis of US self-reported survey data”, has been well received since it went online.

Total views: 576

URL: http://www.dovepress.com/articles.php?article_id=6063&l=ItAn0uejcIr9quaxAks7RURS20272

Weeks Since Published: 4

Best regards

Ms. Olliver
Dove Medical Press
2G, 5 Ceres Court, Mairangi Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.
PO Box 300-008, Albany, Auckland, New Zealand.

www.dovepress.com – open access to scientific and medical research

[15747]


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Delta Airlines in-flight magazine included a review of wine and business expert Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, The Thank You Economy.  The review said that customer service today is generally poor and that social media will make bad service a much bigger deal.  But it is a double-edged sword: companies can also use social media to give their customers a more personal experience.

This is all half-right when it comes to medical care.  Doctors are giving their patients great medical care day in, day out.  But it isn’t always perfect, and at times patients feel their care is lacking.  The Internet and social media can make mountains out of the negative experiences, ruining doctors’ online reputations.

The key is how to use the Internet to nip the problems in the bud, not by trying to “paper over” the problem with online reputation building services but by actually improving the quality of care and making the quality of care more transparent.

DrScore does both these things.  First, by giving doctors an easy, low cost way to get detailed feedback, DrScore gives doctors the information they need to do what they want to do, to give every patient a truly outstanding medical experience.  In addition, by making doctors’ overall scores transparent to the public, DrScore lets patients see a more representative picture of U.S. medical care.

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Joe and Terry Graedon interviewed me about my book Compartments on the People’s Pharmacy: Compartments and Communication.

Our interview was about how misperceptions can lead to communication difficulties that interfere with good health care. When people are operating within their own area of expertise, they may find it hard to understand what the big picture looks like from another person’s perspective. Whether the differences lie between doctor and patient or between different health care providers, the results can be unfair judgments and missed opportunities.

This  attitude can affect the way doctors interpret the results of placebo-controlled trials and how they feel about home remedies. We also discussed the pros and cons of e-mail communication between doctors and patients, and how to choose a good doctor.

Listen here and let me know what you think.

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One of the big efforts to improve the quality of medical care in the United States is the implementation of electronic health records. By putting our medical charts into electronic media, doctors will have more uniform access to our health histories, can be given ticklers for important screening tests, and can be told of potential drug interactions with medicines that were prescribed by other doctors, along with many other potential benefits. You can learn more about the advantages [and disadvantages] of electronic health records on my Getting Better Health Care radio program: “Will the electronic medical record revolutionize health care?.

These benefits may help improve patient satisfaction, too.

However, electronic health records have the potential to negatively impact patients’ medical experiences.  DrScore.com research has shown that the No. 1 factor that drives patients’ satisfaction with their doctors is the patient knowing he or she is seeing a friendly, caring doctor.  If patients find their doctors buried in a computer screen, punching buttons and typing, it could take away from the sense that the doctor is providing the patient personal attention.

There are some things doctors can do to manage the situation.

  • First, don’t put the computer on one side of the doctor’s chair and the patient on the other.  If you do place things that way, the doctor has to  turn their back to the patient to see the chart, and that is simply not good for patients’ impressions of their doctor.  I know, because that’s how things are arranged in my new office!
  • The other thing that doctors can do, especially if their office is like mine, is to acknowledge the problem to the patient. Tell the patient, “These new electronic health records are helpful in so many ways, but one thing I don’t like about them is that I have to turn my back to you to look at your chart.  I hope you will understand and don’t mind.”  Comments like these let patients clearly know that they are being seen by a physician that cares about them and about their feelings.  Letting patients in on one of these little secrets about medical office functioning also lets them feel like they are a part of the process. And they are part of the process — they are the very center of it.

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In a discussion with doctors on the value of online rating, some doctors expressed the very reasonable concern that anonymous online ratings let people trash their doctor and their doctor’s reputation.  Doing that, some doctors said, is completely unfair, especially since patient confidentiality rules completely preclude doctors from responding.  There is a lot of merit to that thinking.
One doctor suggested that patients should be required to give their name when posting online, saying, “If I had something bad to say about a doctor, I’d be more reluctant to say it if I had to identify myself.”

That doctor is, in my opinion, absolutely right. HOWEVER, that is why DrScore makes the doctor rating process anonymous.

Doctors need patients to feel completely open to giving their doctors both positive and negative feedback on their medical experiences.  The negative feedback is a gift, truly a gift — one doctor I know called it a “teachable moment” — that we doctors can use to make our patients’ medical care experiences better.  I know it has for me.

It’s a scary prospect for some doctors, the thought that we should do everything we can to encourage patients — happy or unhappy — to give us online feedback.  But it should not be scary.  Doctors are so committed to and good at giving their patients great medical care that doctors with 10 or more ratings have average scores that are well over 9 out of 10.  The fact that so many people love their doctors should make it much easier and more palatable for us to accept the negative criticisms when they come.

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