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Research from DrScore demonstrates that physicians with more reviews have significantly higher ratings.

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DrScore has released the 2010 Annual Report Card on Patient Satisfaction. You can find the press release at BusinessWire or read it below:

Doctor Reviews: Physicians Who Have More Reviews Have Significantly
Higher Ratings, Reports DrScore

Online doctor rating website releases its 2010 Annual Report Card on Patient Satisfaction

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Jan. 18, 2011) – Doctors should not fear reviews and ratings; in fact, they should embrace them and proactively ask their patients to rate them, according to data from DrScore.com’s 2010 Annual Report Card on Patient Satisfaction. DrScore researchers found that doctors who had 10 or more ratings on the website had an average rating that was two points higher than the average rating of all doctors on the site.

“For 2010, the average rating for physicians across the site was 7.1,” said patient satisfaction expert Steve Feldman, M.D., the founder of the online doctor review site DrScore.com. “However, doctors with 10 or more ratings had an average score of 9, and doctors with 20 or more ratings had an average score of 9.1 — a significant increase.”

The Annual Report Card is based on the results of more than 54,000 ratings by patients who completed a patient satisfaction online survey to review their doctors at DrScore.com during 2010. This year’s Report Card also showed that while the average rating for all physicians decreased slightly from 2009 to 2010, (7.4 to 7.1), it increased for those physicians with 20 or more ratings — from 8.9 to 9.1.

“Doctors who have a higher number of ratings are getting more representative scores, and they are probably more attuned to patient satisfaction,” Dr. Feldman said. “Instead of having one patient who may be frustrated or angry go fill out survey, these doctors are most likely asking all of their patients provide feedback. That means the happy patients are being heard, too — not just the ones who have a problem.

“We hope that doctors will see these scientifically verifiable results and start proactively asking their patients to go online and complete a patient satisfaction survey,” Dr. Feldman continued. “Doctors are doing great work, and the majority of patients are happy — it’s information that often gets lost in the news cycle.”

By asking patients to rate them, doctors are also providing better information for consumers/patients, so they can make more informed choices. “Obtaining more physician ratings is better for doctors and better for patients,” Dr. Feldman said. “It’s a win-win.”

As in years past, the Report Card found that wait time was an important indicator of patient satisfaction. Interestingly, this year’s survey found that seniors (65+) have become less tolerant of long waits. When they had to wait an hour or more for the doctor vs. 15 minutes or less, they experienced a 37 percent drop (compared to 2009’s 27 percent drop) in their average satisfaction rating.

“In 2009, the data showed that younger patients placed a greater emphasis on waiting time with regards to being satisfied with their doctor visit, while those over 65 were more forgiving,” Dr. Feldman said. “However, that gap has closed. This year, the 37 percent drop for patients 65 and over was extremely close to the 40 percent drop for patients 34 and under.”

For 2010, researchers at DrScore.com also evaluated differences in patient satisfaction between men and women, but found the data surprisingly comparable. The only slight differences were how men and women weighted certain aspects of care. In general, men tended to rank treatment success and treatment follow-up as more important relative to other aspects, while women ranked thoroughness and friendliness higher.

According to DrScore data, there are two issues that can destroy patient satisfaction: long waits to see the doctor or a visit with the doctor that is too short. “If the doctor is running late and keeps the patient waiting, he or she should explain the reasons for the delay and take plenty of time with that patient so the patient knows the doctor cares,” Dr. Feldman said. “In addition, it’s important that doctors provide a way for patients to give feedback.”

Dr. Feldman suggested several ways doctors could increase their patient feedback:

  • At the end of the office visit, ask patients if they have any questions or would like to provide any feedback about the physician, staff or office.
  • Give patients a card asking for their feedback and directing them to an online doctor review site such as www.drscore.com.
  • Provide a link to an online doctor review site such as http://www.drscore.com on the home page of the practice’s website with an invitation to “Give Us Feedback!”

“At DrScore, we believe that to provide the best care possible, physicians need patient feedback via balanced, validated, online patient surveys,” Dr.Feldman said. “Great medical care is about more than just providing the right diagnosis and the right treatment, and doctors need patient feedback to actively improve their quality of care.”

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As we approach the end of the year, I always find it useful to make a list of reasons why we believe online physician rating is an important tool for health care practitioners (and, of course, why we think DrScore is the best!). Here are a few thoughts on why DrScore is a great tool for both consumers and doctors:

A Site for Consumers

  • All doctors need feedback from their patients. I created DrScore.com because I had learned from my own patient feedback that there is much more to great medical care than giving the right diagnosis andthe right treatment. Doctors care about their patients, but they have to make sure the patient knows that they care.
  • As physicians, we want to deliver the best care possible, and across the board, patients are telling us we’re doing a great job.  It’s a fact that often gets lost when the media only focus on the negative experiences that patients have.
  • When patients are satisfied with their physician interaction, they are more likely to follow doctors’ orders. Patient satisfaction leads to improved adherence to prescriptions, better outcomes and ultimately reduced health care costs.
  • DrScore.com is the only Web site where patients can rate their physician and know that their doctor, if he or she is a subscriber, is reviewing their feedback and  taking action. Patients complete an anonymous, validated, online interactive patient survey that are then distributed to their physicians on a monthly basis. These survey cover everything from accessible parking to waiting time and treatment access to time spent with the physician. In turn, physicians can view summaries of their ratings through the site or receive more detailed reports that allow them to “drill down” into the data to improve patient care.
  • Consumers can also use DrScore.com to find a doctor in their community. Doctors are categorized by specialty and community

A Site for Doctors

  • DrScore is a physician rating Web site that physicians send their patients to with the ultimate goal of enhancing the quality of patient care. The site is not a vehicle for selling advertising or a forum for bashing doctors. It’s about helping patients and doctors have the best medical care experience.
  • With DrScore, physicians don’t have to hire a research firm to conduct patient satisfaction research. Instead, they have year-round access to summaries of their ratings through the site and detailed reports that allow them to “drill down” into the data to improve patient care. The data is extremely detailed and actionable, and allows physicians to pinpoint exactly where improvements in patient care need to be made.
  • Doctors should be encouraging their patients to do online ratings in order to determine a truly representative score and find out where improvements need to be made. In today’s customer-service oriented world, positive feedback is equally important so doctors will know what they are doing right and continue to act upon it.
  • Data from DrScore.com has revealed that the amount of time a patient spends with his or her doctor is more likely to impact his or her satisfaction level than the amount of time spent waiting to see the doctor. Patients are willing to wait longer without becoming dissatisfied if they feel that the physician does not rush them through the appointment. A long wait time followed by a brief visit with the doctor is a “toxic combination” resulting in dramatically decreased patient satisfaction rates. I specialize in psoriasis management, and many times I can tell from the door of the office that a patient has psoriasis, and I could write the prescription for medication as I’m walking into the room. But if I did that, I would leave the patient feeling like I didn’t spend any time with him and didn’t care about him — and that patient probably wouldn’t trust my judgment and wouldn’t use the medications I prescribed or follow my treatment plan.
  • The benefits of continually improving your patient satisfaction scores are many – our data shows that satisfied patients are more likely to follow doctor’s orders resulting in better treatment outcomes.  This also leads to lower health care costs and improved productivity and profitability for your practice.

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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.”

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Here’s DrScore’s latest news release on data collected about seniors rating doctors online. http://bit.ly/bBo7rg

Online rating of doctors is a relatively new thing.  DrScore, one of the first doctor rating Web sites, has now been collecting data for seven years.  Online doctor ratings are used by patients to assess what patients think of their doctors and, importantly, to give feedback to doctors on what doctors and their staff are doing well and what they can do better.

Older Americans are among the most frequent users of medical care.  In the United States, about one in four medical office visits are by patients 65 and older.*  Over half the medical office visits are by people age 45 and higher.  The quality of medical care is of prime importance to older Americans.

We analyzed data from the DrScore.com Web site to find out which patients are most likely to rate their doctors.  Most of the online ratings come from younger people.  While 55 percent of offices visits are by people 45 years old or older, these patients account for only 15 percent of doctor ratings.  Young adults (age 18-44) are about 30 times as likely to rate their visit to the office as are people 65 years of age or older!

There may be several reasons why older patients, the ones who would benefit most from enhancing the quality of medical care, aren’t participating in online doctor rating more often.  Access to the Internet may be one factor, though Internet access is rapidly increasing among seniors.  Another possibility is that seniors may have a different attitude about doctors than younger people do; many seniors may not feel it is there place to tell a doctor how they felt about the quality of the office visit.  If true, this is disappointing, as seniors have special needs that doctors need to be aware of.

Seniors know the importance of voting in political contests.  Rating doctors isn’t altogether different, as doctors need to hear seniors’ voices to know how to tailor their medical services to best meet the needs of their senior patients.

*Data on U.S. medical office visits were obtained from the National Ambulatory Medical Care survey performed by the National Center for Health Statistics.

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One of the issues with online doctor rating sites is that it is very much a one-sided affair.  In other businesses, if a customer made a complaint online, the business would be able to respond.  Not so on doctor ratings sites.  The patient privacy rules in the HIPAA legislation  preclude physicians from even acknowledging someone is their patient, so physicians have no ability to respond if they feel there is an inaccurate post about the care they offer.

This seems unfair to many physicians, and I do agree.  Fortunately, the vast, vast majority of patients are very, very happy with their doctors and their care.

The unlevel playing field problem is exacerbated by the possibility that someone with a personal grudge against a physician could purposefully try to harm the physician’s reputation.  It could be a competitor, an angry former spouse or a patient who felt vindictive for some reason.  While one advantage of an anonymous online feedback system is that it lets patients feel they can give fully open and honest feedback without risk of reprisal, anonymous systems have the potential for abuse, too.

Perhaps there could be a rules change that would let a physician respond if a patient opens the door to a discussion of the care they received. But I find that possibility to be unlikely, especially given all the benefits of strong rules about patients’ privacy.  Some physicians may consider other avenues, like those offered by Medical Justice.

But there is another approach, which  is to do what DrScore does: Don’t post open comments at all.

And actually, I think the best solution is to just get every patient to rate his or her doctor online.  That way, even if one patient does say something bad, the public can see what other patients think in order to determine if the negative comment was an outlier or was really representative of what the doctor was like.

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As the founder of one of America’s leading doctor rating Web sites, I’ve had many opportunities to talk to doctors about what they think of these sites.

As you might imagine, the opinions run from “what a horrible development this is” to “what a great idea.”

One thing I have  found is that no one seems to be bothered by a Web site that gives patients accurate information on doctors.  The doctors who don’t like the idea of these sites usually only express concern that the information may not be reliable.  They have a point.  Unless there are a lot of ratings, it is likely that the ratings could be skewed.

Because of that likelihood, some doctors come to the conclusion that these physician rating Web sites should be ignored or closed.  I take the opposite view.

The more people use these sites, the more representative the ratings will be.

If you’ve seen a doctor, fill out the brief DrScore survey at www.DrScore.com.  Help the public see a more representative sample of how doctors are doing.  If we can get that kind of sample, I don’t think doctors will have anything to be afraid of.

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