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Some doctors are totally disgusted with the profusion of online doctor rating websites.  I understand why they feel that way.  As great a career as medicine is, it seems horrible to have to worry about online doctor ratings on top of the years of training, the continuing commitment to ongoing medical education, the trials and tribulations of running an office, and the stresses of caring for sick patients.
Are online doctor rating websites like DrScore.com the bows for patients’ arrows at doctors?  That’s not the way I think of it. DrScore is more of a vase to display to the flowers that patients give the doctors that they appreciate.  The vast, vast majority of patients love their doctors, and online rating is way to make those patients visible.  When doctors see the esteem they are held in by patients, I think it will help doctors renew their commitment to giving patients great medical care.

Doctor’s Day is coming March 30. Give your doctors some flowers for their vase by rating them online at DrScore.com.

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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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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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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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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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Happy Valentine’s Day and congratulations to our 2011 America’s Most Loved Health Care Provider: Roger Ernest, DO, a general surgeon in Sanford, NC. Please see our press release below for more on Dr. Ernest and our five runners’ up for America’s Most Loved.

 

DrScore Announces ‘America’s Most Loved’ Health Care Provider
General surgeon Roger Ernest, DO, is the highest-rated Provider of the Year

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Feb. 11, 2011) — Valentine’s Day is a little sweeter for a general surgeon in Sanford, N.C., who celebrates as “America’s Most Loved” health care provider. DrScore.com, the online patient satisfaction survey and rating Web site, has named Roger Ernest, DO, with Carolina Crossroads Surgery PC, as 2011’s Health Care Provider of the Year.

 

“Dr. Ernest’s average rating of 9.93 out of 10 is truly exceptional,” said patient satisfaction expert Steve Feldman M.D., founder of DrScore. “His patients have given him a wonderful Valentine’s gift: their feedback. They have taken the time to go to DrScore.com and fill out a patient satisfaction survey. Feedback — whether it is positive or negative — is appreciated because it helps doctors improve patient care.”

 

Dr. Ernest received his doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2002 and completed his internship and residency at the UMDNJ School of Osteopathic Medicine.  He is board certified in general surgery, with a special interest in patients with breast cancer.

 

“We’re really proud of Dr. Ernest and his recognition,” said Doug Doris, CEO of Central Carolina Hospital in Sanford. “His commitment to his patients exemplifies the quality and devotion our entire medical staff provides to their patients.”

 

To date, approximately 190,000 DrScore online surveys have been completed in which patients answer questions on everything from signage in the parking lot and friendliness of the receptionist to how long they waited and how much time the health care provider spent with them. To be considered for “America’s Most Loved,” health care practitioners had to receive at least 20 ratings on the DrScore site during 2010. This year’s runners up:

 

  • Brian L. Pearlman, M.D., FACP, is an internist with Internal Medical Associates of Atlanta Medical Center in Atlanta Ga. Dr. Pearlman received his medical degree from the University of Miami School of Medicine and completed residencies at Baylor University Medical Center and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
  • James “Trever” Rester, M.D., is an internist with Lake Point Medical Partners in Royse City, Texas. Dr. Trever received his medical degree from the University of Texas Medical School and completed his residency at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine.
  • G. Neil Love, MD, FACOG, is an Ob/Gyn with Hilton Head Regional Obstetrics and Gynecology Partners in Hilton Head Island, S.C. Dr. Love received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and completed his residency at the University of Southern California Medical Center.
  • Kathleen Moe, M.D., is a dermatologist with Frederick Dermatology Associates in Frederick, Md. Dr. Moe received her medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine and completed her residency at Georgetown University/Washington Hospital Center.
  • Joann Lutz, ANP, is an adult nurse practitioner with Oregon Medical Group. She completed a Masters program through Oregon Health Sciences University and is ANCC board certified.

 

“This year marks the first time a nurse practitioner has been in the top five runners up,” Dr. Feldman said. “This may reflect an important trend for medical practices as health care continues to evolve —everyone on the frontlines is vitally important in improving patient satisfaction.”

 

Increasing patient satisfaction directly links to quality of care issues such as following doctors’ orders and taking the prescribed medications — factors that ultimately lead to better patient health outcomes. “The comments on DrScore.com for all of these highest rated providers are very similar, especially with regard to overall communication and attitude, ” Dr. Feldman said. “Patients made comments such as: ‘Informative and with a personal and caring attitude.’ ‘Staff were attentive both to the patient and family.’ ‘Kind, caring and patient physician with warm, friendly manner. ALWAYS takes time to listen to you — I think he is the greatest and best doctor I’ve ever had.’

 

“All of our research has found that a good bedside manner and spending quality time with the patient is a critical component in patient satisfaction,” Dr. Feldman continued. “The best advice I can give doctors is to remind yourself — before you see each and every patient — that you want to make that patient feel cared for.”

 

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