Utah medical system posts physician ratings online

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University of Utah Health Care, Utah's only academic medical center, is posting patient satisfaction scores and comments about its 1,200 physicians online.

In its announcement this week, the system claims it's the nation's first hospital system to do so, though the Indiana Health Information Exchange announced last week that it would post clinical quality measure from more than 750 doctors from 174 practices.

More than 40,000 patients in Utah completed the nine-question survey evaluating physicians. The five-star ranking system produces rankings similar to those on consumer sites Yelp, Angie's List and HealthGrades. The health system's overall physician satisfaction ranking is 4.7, with the lowest grade a 3.9.

Comments were edited only to protect patient identity or to remove comments that might be libelous or slanderous, the announcement says. The survey focused on several issues, including:

  • Likelihood of recommending doctor
  • Confidence in doctor
  • Time spent with doctor
  • Doctor's use of clear language
  • Doctor's effort to include patient in decisions
  • Doctor's concern for questions and worries
  • Doctor's explanation of condition/problem
  • Wait time at clinic
  • Doctor's friendliness and courtesy

While physicians have worried that in the push to increase transparency, a few disgruntled patients could smear their reputation, a couple of studies have found that positive reviews predominate. An article presented to the Operations Research and the Management Sciences conference in Montreal last summer found patients more likely to exaggerate their opinions of physicians at online sites.

An examination of reviews on the site RateMDs.com, state medial board websites and other data by researchers from the University of Maryland and University of Minnesota found patients more likely to post reviews when they've had an extremely bad experience.

Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine of 33 physician rating sites, found 88 percent of the reviews to be positive, with the remainder split between negative and neutral.

Patient satisfaction scores are growing in importance, though, even for healthcare's top executives. In a HealthLeaders Media Executive Compensation Survey recently, hospital CEOs listed operating margin (67 percent), patient satisfaction (60 percent), clinical quality (54 percent) and financial efficiency (44 percent) as the four top factors for their current incentive payments.

To learn more:
- read the announcement

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