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Are obstetricians and gynecologists more friendly and caring than other specialists?.

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Here is the latest press release from DrScore. This paper comparing patient satisfaction among different specialties was published by Dove Medical Press in January.

 

DrScore Researchers Find OB/GYNs Rate Higher than Other Specialists in
Caring and Friendly Attitude

Paper on patient satisfaction published by Dove Medical Press

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Jan. 27, 2011) – Overall patient satisfaction ratings and ratings of doctors’ caring and friendly attitude are higher for obstetricians and gynecologists compared to other specialists, according to researchers at DrScore.com. The paper, Patient Satisfaction with Obstetricians and Gynecologists Compared with Other Specialties: Analysis of US Self-Reported Survey Data, (Isha Patel, Jongwha Chang, Jatin Srivastava, et al) was published in the journal Patient Related Outcome Measures by Dove Medical Press in January.

 

“There have been very few studies in the United States evaluating patient satisfaction across different specialties,” said patient satisfaction expert Steve Feldman, M.D., the founder of the online doctor review site DrScore.com. “Our research team wanted to see whether certain specialties had higher levels of patient satisfaction, and they found that obstetricians and gynecologists were 55 percent more likely to earn a high patient satisfaction rating and three times more likely to earn a good rating in caring and friendly attitude.”

 

The researchers utilized data from a national, validated, Web-based survey among 7,938 anonymous patients who rated their physicians according to satisfaction with treatment on the basis of their experience during their most recent outpatient visits. Patients rated physicians on a scale of 0 (not at all satisfied) to 10 (extremely satisfied). According to the study, when asked to rate their satisfaction with the physician’s caring and friendly attitude, the average rating for obstetricians and gynecologists was 6.65 and 5.86 for other specialists. Other key contributors to overall patient satisfaction include wait time and time spent with the doctor. Overall, patients waited a significantly shorter time for obstetricians and gynecologists (average 26.8 minutes) vs. other specialists (average 29.1 minutes). Patients also reported spending more time with their obstetricians and gynecologists (9.5 minutes) vs. other specialists (8.8 minutes).

 

The researchers concluded that patient satisfaction ratings associated with caring and friendly attitude were higher for obstetricians and gynecologists compared to other specialists and that doctors’ caring and friendly attitude plays a key role in patients’ satisfaction.

 

“Even though several factors influence patient satisfaction, adoption of factors like reducing waiting times, effective patient–physician communication and involving patients in the decision-making process should aid physicians in achieving optimal patient satisfaction results,” said Dr. Feldman. “The development of online doctor rating websites with a national scope has opened new vistas on the quality of health care delivery, offering researchers new ways to probe patient satisfaction and to identify new ways to enhance the medical care experience.”

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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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The AMA News published a terrific article entitled, “Negative online reviews leave doctors with little recourse.”  The article describes inappropriate practices by one doctor rating site and the privacy limitations that prevent doctors from responding to negative reviews.  It certainly isn’t a level playing field.

I’m not sure the playing field needs to be completely level, but fairness ought to be expected.  Giving patients the right to freely publish their opinions isn’t a problem.  As readers of this blog know, our DrScore research finds that patients typically love their physicians. On the DrScore.com rating site, the average score of a doctor with 20 or more ratings is 9.3 out of 10.  Online physician rating Web sites that purposely advertise for or prominently display only negative ratings aren’t being fair and aren’t giving the public what they deserve: honest, representative feedback on doctors.

Transparency is good for patients and physicians.

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A group of physicians was discussing how to handle unwelcome telemarketing calls, and they came up with a long list of mean things to do to the callers.

These doctors are wonderful people, but, at times, an ill temper comes out in just about everyone  — and telemarketing seems to bring out the worst in folks.

We doctors need  to remember that when we have an unhappy patient.  Even the nicest folks may be ill-tempered on occasion, just like we are.

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When I went on my recent trip to Japan, I flew United Airlines.  The meeting sponsors paid to have me fly in business class.  It was a great experience.  I could tell how the staff and the company were committed to giving me great care.
Just before the flight ended, a representative from United came over to me and surveyed me on my experience with the flight.  He was very polite, but at the time, despite my love of giving feedback, I just wanted to watch the on-flight entertainment system.  I think they would do well to offer an online feedback system like DrScore so that I could give my feedback at a time that was most convenient for me.

Sometimes I hear physician colleagues say that patient ratings aren’t a good way to assess the quality of health care.  They have a point, but they are also missing the boat.  I have no idea how to fly an airplane, much less all the other technical aspects of how airplanes and airlines work, just as most patients probably don’t know much about the technical aspects of medical care.  But I do know and I can comment on whether my experience on my trip was good or bad.

Patients know whether they have received a good medical experience.

Safe, on-time air travel is like making the right diagnosis and giving the right treatment.  It’s a critical foundation for great service, but it isn’t the end of great service.  A caring experience is essential, too.

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An August 3, 2010, article in The Washington Post discussed rating systems for doctors, pointing out that current doctor rating systems are “rudimentary” and “may not reliably reflect a doctor’s abilities.”  Well, yes and no.  When it comes to measuring technical aspects of diagnosis and treatment, there  is probably no reliable system that reflect a doctor’s abilities.  On the other hand, we have excellent systems, DrScore.com among them, that are able to reliably assess patients’ satisfaction with their care.

The Post article points out that the standard way to find a doctor is to ask friends and family members for advice or to trust a referral from another doctor.  These are very reasonable, albeit limited approaches.  Online systems that assess and report patient satisfaction are extensions of the “ask friends and family” approach.  These systems may not be a reliable measure of a doctor’s ability to make a diagnosis and prescribe an accurate treatment, but they are a reliable measure of how happy patients were with the care they received.

And that is something worth knowing.

A tremendous advantage of an online rating system like DrScore.com over the traditional friends and family approach is that the online data collection allows doctors to find out how they are doing, a critical tool to help doctors do what they want to do most — give their patients great medical care!

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