Benefits of Online Physician Ratings
Transparency has become a key concept in healthcare over the past few years. Starting with University of Utah Health Care in 2012, more organizations have begun posting physician ratings online. While consumers may like the ratings, do they really make any difference?
Most physician ratings systems use a star rating to show results. Results of patient surveys are converted to a rating from 1 to 5 stars. While many providers use a conversion algorithm provided by the vendor doing the surveys, some providers have developed their own conversion tool. Using a star rating system enables physicians to appear above listings from third party review groups (i.e., Healthgrades or Vitals) on Google search pages. By doing their own surveys, healthcare organizations get feedback from far more reviewers than do the third party reviewers.
Most surveys ask patients about the friendliness and courtesy of the physician and if the patient would recommend the physician to others. Other parameters surveyed include the patient’s level of confidence in the physician and if the patient thought the physician spent enough time in listening to the patient’s concerns. Additional survey questions may include the length of time the patient had to wait for the physician. However, these surveys don’t generally attempt to measure things like whether the prescribed treatment was effective.
One strategy that helps to provide better information for patients is to include anonymous comments from surveys along with the star ratings. The actual words of the patient are used. In addition to providing more detailed information to patients, these comments also help physicians to know where they are performing well and where they need to improve.
The bottom line: online physician ratings provide information from actual, verified patients expressing their opinions about the care they received from providers, which is not necessarily the case with third party reviewers.
Is your organization using physician reviews? If not, are you considering doing so?
Increasing Telemedicine Adoption
The idea of telemedicine is generally appealing on many levels. However, bringing it into mainstream medical practice has been a challenge. Intermountain Healthcare in Utah has had recent success in providing increased telemedicine coverage.
In the past, one of the barriers to adoption was technology. But advances in technology have made it less of an issue. Two remaining barriers continue to present problems, however. These barriers are:
- Clinical disruption. Telemedicine affects a physician’s practice. A process has to be instituted, policies and procedures must be developed and implemented and regulatory requirements must be accounted for.
- Reimbursement. Models for reimbursement are still being developed. Until telemedicine can be shown to be effective and economical, adoption for reimbursement by payers will take some time.
Intermountain Healthcare began implementing its D2C telemedicine program, called Intermountain Connect Care, in January of this year. The program has been rolled out in phases, offered first to Intermountain employees, then to members of the system’s health plan, SelectHealth and is now available to the general public. ConnectCare began with an on-demand product for urgent and emergency care and is now beginning to offer routine care via virtual visit appointments.
Intermountain surveys have found that 67% of ConnectCare users would have gone to an urgent care provider, 23% would have gone to primary care and 10% would have done nothing to seek care.
Intermountain is continuing to work with its physicians to help them see that the telemedicine service can be an extension of normal care. It can be a vehicle for healthcare organizations to fulfill their mission and achieving organizational goals.
Has your organization embraced telemedicine?