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Posts Tagged ‘medical transparency’

We are living in the Internet Age.

A 2011 report from the Sesame Workshop and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, entitled Always Connected: The new digital media habits of young children, examined the media that are available to and used by children.  The report finds that 60 to 80 percent of households with children have Internet access.  Moreover, even among young children ages 5 to 9 years old, some 50 to 60 percent of children are using the Internet!

It wasn’t that long ago that the idea that patients could rate their medical experiences and publicly share those ratings  seemed to be impossibly difficult and impractical. That idea seems antiquated today.  The ability of a doctor rating website to provide greater transparency of medical quality, to provide representative sampling, and to empower patients to give their doctors feedback depends on patients having Internet access. And that access continues to grow.

Use of the Internet is rapidly becoming ubiquitous.  DrScore.com is proud to be one of the many organizations to take advantage of this opportunity to improve communication and make the previously unimaginable a normal part of our lives.

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“You can cite all the statistics you want but I am telling you, that a pissed off patient is about 20 times more likely to post than a happy patient!”

I hear this type of comment quite often from doctors who think doctor reviews and online doctor rating are bad things.  However, I’ve run against the current on many issues in the past.  I don’t mind doing it.  My research found that tanning beds had addictive properties years before it became conventional to think so.  My research on how poorly patients used their medicine changed a lot of thinking in dermatology about how to best treat patients.  Some doctors still don’t believe me when I tell them online doctor rating is good for patients and for doctors.

Looking at individual ratings, on a 0-10 scale where 10 is the best score, the most common score a doctor gets on DrScore.com is a 10.  The next most common score is a 9.  The average score of doctors with 20 or more ratings is OVER 9 out of 10.  It amazes me that anyone familiar with these data believes that only unhappy patients rate doctors.

I can’t say that unhappy patients aren’t more likely to rate their doctor.  What I can say is that doctors have so, so many happy patients that doctors who have 20 or more ratings have an average score of over 9 out of 10.  Doctors shouldn’t be afraid of doctor reviews and online ratings; doctors should embrace online ratings and encourage all patients to rate their doctors.  Doctors have nothing to hide. Letting the public see a representative score of how doctors are doing will help the public see what a good job U.S. doctors are doing.

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A few key messages about online doctor ratings at DrScore.com.

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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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Economist Gerald Epstein found that economists who have been advising government have had financial ties to the entities about which they had been giving advice.  Sounds a bit seedy. He found that one prominent economist had written a supportive paper about Iceland’s economy — funded by the Icelandic Chamber of Commerce — shortly before that economy tanked (the economist responded at this site.

Epstein didn’t claim there were abuses; he just pointed out that it would be good to have some ethical guidelines in place, particularly disclosure of financial ties and more transparency, just as we are seeing in medicine today.  Here, here!  Transparency is good for all concerned, something we strongly believe in at DrScore.com.

One of the best points Epstein made is that he didn’t believe that economists should cut off ties with industry.  Those ties could be important, just as in medicine it is valuable for drug companies, government agencies, academic centers and doctors to work together to develop and disseminate new treatments (something discussed on Getting Better Health Care a few months ago).  But ties should be transparent, so that patients can made informed decisions.

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NPR reports that Congressman John Mica has been pushing to replace TSA airport screening employees with screeners from private companies, and that those companies have been major contributors to Congressman Mica.  Maybe replacing TSA employees with private screeners is a good idea, maybe it isn’t.  But do we trust the opinion of a Congressman who is taking money from the companies that would benefit from this policy?  Doesn’t that money make us question his judgment on this issue?

The reason I ask has nothing to do with airport screening.  The doubt that I feel when I hear this Congressman pushing policies that help the people who give him money makes we wonder if this is how some patients feel about the advice they get from their doctor — knowing the doctor received money for services provided to drug companies.

There are growing regulations at many levels on the relationship between health care providers and drug companies.  There is also greater transparency as drug companies start reporting what they give doctors. Transparency is a good thing.

It’s too bad that when it comes to politicians, it seems we are moving in the other direction — more money and less transparency.

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