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Posts Tagged ‘patient feedback’

One of the benefits of online doctor rating — a benefit to patients and doctors — is a transparency of medical care quality that will help people identify the bad doctors, the uncaring ones, the ones who, according to some patients, you wouldn’t send your dog to. Patients aren’t the only ones who know about these doctors.  Doctors know about them too. They have seen patients who were seen by these colleagues, and all of those patients were unhappy with the care they received.

I know that online doctor rating isn’t going to find many such doctors.  In fact, quite the opposite, online rating of physicians is going to show there aren’t nearly so many “bad doctors” out there as people think there are. Let me explain.

I’m a practicing dermatologist.  I see patients who have seen another dermatologist in town, maybe a dozen or so of that doctor’s patients.  Every one of those patients was unhappy with the care they received, and none of those patients received treatment that cured their condition.

Now that’s clear evidence the other dermatologist didn’t know what they were doing, right?

No, not right.  You see, every time that other dermatologist clears up his or her patient’s rash and gives his or her patient a medical care experience the patient is happy with, that patient continues seeing the other dermatologist and doesn’t come see me.  I  see that doctor’s outliers, the occasional patient who, for whatever reason, didn’t get better or who was unhappy.  I’m sure that the other dermatologist sees a few of my former patients too, only the ones whom I didn’t cure, only the ones who were unhappy with me.  Our observations give us a misleading picture of other people.

Well what about those doctors whose patients post comments like, “I wouldn’t send my dog to that doctor?”  That kind of comment does happen, and, sadly, I’m sure that’s the true opinion of the patient who makes that comment.  But those comments are generally not anywhere close to representative of what the vast majority of that doctor’s patients think.  I get comments like that at times (thankfully less often than I used to, having learned from patient satisfaction feedback what I was doing wrong).  I’ve been rated over 500 times on DrScore.com.  The average of those scores is 9.1 out of 10 (not bad, according to my mom).  Still, occasional patients give me a 0 or a 1 for their experience.  I know they may think everyone gives me a 0 or 1, that I’m a “bad doctor,” but the great majority of my patients think I’m a 9 or 10.  So far, that’s true for all the doctors with just 10 or more ratings on DrScore.

There may be “bad doctors” out there, but I suspect they are incredibly rare.  There weren’t any in my medical school class, and I have yet to meet one in person.  If there are any, I hope we do smoke them out with online ratings.  If they exist, maybe the online scrutiny will wake them up to the need to improve the quality of care they offer.

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I recently returned from a trip to a national medical meeting at which I was invited to speak in a session titled, “Managing Your Online Reputation.”  The first guest speaker talked about personal experiences of being skewered online, and the second speaker talked about doctor rating sites in general and how those sites are a jungle of mean-spirited, libelous trashing of physicians.  Worse yet, the audience had come expecting that kind of discussion about online sites and desperately wanted to know what could be done to put an end to online doctor rating.

Now that’s my kind of audience!  I’m not someone who wants to preach to the choir.

My presentation went very well.  I started by explaining why I, a doctor, would start an online doctor rating site. I explained  the value of getting feedback from patients and described how that feedback has made me a better doctor. I also demonstrated how transparency actually helps improve doctors’ reputations in the community.

I think I won over most — if not all the doctors — to the idea that DrScore does online rating the right way and is a positive development for both patients and their doctors.  (At least I know I convinced those doctors who came up afterward to tell me what they thought of the talk.)  Some of the doctors who attended the session decided to sign up to use the DrScore.com patient satisfaction reporting service as a way to get feedback from their patients.

It is heartening to know that doctors can see the value in getting patient feedback and that at DrScore we’ve created an easyk inexpensive way for doctors to get that feedback as a tool to assist them in improving patient satisfaction.

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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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DrScore has shown time and again that doctors’ conventional wisdom about doctor rating — that only unhappy patients will rate their doctors online — is completely wrong.  The most common overall satisfaction score that patients give their doctors is a perfect 10.  The next most common score is 9.  Of doctors with 10 or more ratings, the average score is just over 9.3 out of 10.  And if a doctor wants to make the annual “America’s Most Loved Health Care Providers” in the United States, he or she will have to have a score well over 9.9 out of 10.

So. if so many people are so thoroughly happy with their doctors, why do we need online doctor rating at all?
First, the public wants to know (and doctors need the public to know) how well doctors are doing.  The newspaper is never going to publish a front page news story with a title like, “John Smith Sees Dr. Jones and Has a Wonderful Office Visit.”  No, if the newspaper publishes a front-page story about a doctor, It is most likely negative, leading people’s perceptions about quality of care to get quite warped.

Transparency is good for medicine.
Second, getting feedback from patients online is easy, efficient and helps doctors do what doctors want to do most: give patients great care. DrScore’s interactive survey makes it possible for doctors to get the detailed feedback they need — both positive and negative criticism —t o make their medical practice better from patients’ perspectives.

In all honesty, I don’t think Nordstrom’s or Disney would be happy with a score of just 9 out of 10, with one in 10 or one in 20 customers being distressed with their experience.  We in medicine can — and should — be aiming higher, trying to give all patients what they consider a perfect, caring medical experience.

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February — the month of Valentine’s Day and love. In the next week, we will be releasing who is America’s Most Loved Doctor, a doctor who had a significant number of ratings, along with the highest average rating, during 2010.

Last year’s America’s Most Loved Doctor was Thomas Selznick, DO, a family practitioner in Livonia, Michigan, with Livonia Family Physicians. His overall score was a 9.96 out of 10, and patient after patient described how ‘caring’ he was, how he takes time with the patient, listens and doesn’t hurry.

Who will be this year’s most loved doctor? I’ll give you a hint — it’s a doctor from the south this year, and it’s not a family practitioner.

Do you have a favorite doctor that you would like to see as America’s Most Loved Doctor for 2011? The way to do it is to provide feedback about your doctor through a DrScore.com survey. Rate your doctor and encourage other patients to rate him or her, too!

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The perfect physician gift? An iPad (and you can use it to invite your patients to rate you).

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Here’s our latest press release from DrScore.com …

DrScore: Physicians Should Tap into iPads, Smart Phones and Handheld Mobile Devices to Improve Patient Satisfaction

Doctors can ask Santa to tuck tech-savvy gifts in their stockings this year

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Dec. 16, 2010) — Doctors will definitely appreciate an iPad — or any other state-of-the-art handheld mobile device — in their Christmas stockings this year. With sleek styles and a wide range of medical apps, the devices allow physicians to easily interact with patient medical records, explain diseases and medical procedures — and encourage their patients to rate them at the online doctor rating website DrScore.com.

“These days, you are just as likely to find doctors carrying iPads in their white coat pockets along with their stethoscopes,” says patient satisfaction expert Steve Feldman, M.D., founder of DrScore.com. “After using the device to explain a patient’s condition or make notes in the medical record, the physician can click on the I Need a Doctor app or log on to www.drscore.com and ask the patient to take the quick three- to five-minute patient satisfaction survey that looks at key metrics such as overall satisfaction, time spent with doctor, thoroughness of the appointment, appointment follow-up and overall communications, friendliness of the staff and wait time.”

During 2010, DrScore has seen traffic to its website triple, with more physicians actively using the patient feedback provided on the site to improve patient care. “We always encourage physicians to be proactive and invite their patients to rate them online while making it as easy as possible for them to do so,” Dr. Feldman explains.  “Our research at DrScore has shown as that patients are more satisfied when they feel their physician was caring, and devices such as the iPad help break down barriers to communication and provide a shared experience for the physician and patient, leading to a better health care experience for all.”

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About DrScore.com

Founded by Steve Feldman, M.D., DrScore.com is an interactive online survey site where patients can rate their physicians, as well as search for a physician by specialty. DrScore’s mission is to improve medical care by giving patients a forum for rating their physicians, and by giving doctors an affordable, objective, non-intrusive means of documenting the quality of care that they provide. For more information, visit http://www.drscore.com. You can also visit DrScore’s blog, become a fan of DrScore on Facebook or follow DrScore on Twitter @DrScoredotcom.

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