I previously wrote that “I support the public reporting of validated survey data from real patients” and I am now proud to report that our Medical Group is actually doing it.
Last week we went live with patient satisfaction scores and patient comments on our “find-a-doc” website. Here's how it works. We contract with a nationally recognized company to send surveys to patients who have seen one of our physicians for an outpatient visit. If we have the patient's email address, we have the survey sent electronically; if not, it is mailed to a random sample. The survey asks patients about a wide variety of issues associated with the visit, and includes 10 questions specifically about the interaction with the physician. Patients are also asked to add a comment.
We then post the average score that each of our physicians has received, along with a breakdown of the score by individual question, as well as the comments. More details are available here, but a few are worth mentioning.
First, we only have data on our physicians who see patients in an outpatient setting. While we are working on expanding the eligible physicians, we don't have a way to gather reliable physician-specific data on our colleagues who practice in other kinds of settings or are exclusively hospital based (e.g., emergency department physicians, intensivists, hospitalists). Obviously, we also don't have data on physicians who don't regularly interact directly with patients (e.g., radiologists, pathologists). Even with these exclusions, we have posted ratings on about 900 physicians.
Second, we don't automatically publish results for any physician who has not had at least 30 surveys returned in the last 18 months, though we do allow physicians with fewer returned surveys to request that their results be posted. See, for example, yours truly.
Finally, a word about the comments. Based on the work of our physician-led Patient Experience Committee, we don't publish comments that disclose protected health information, threaten legal action, contain comments about other providers, include profanities, or have comments about a physician's personal appearance. We do publish comments that are unflattering about a physician's bedside manner. So, for example, a comment like “Dr. Nash is a big fat slob” would not get posted, but one that asserts that “Dr. Nash didn't listen to a word I said” would. We have created an online tool that allows our physicians to preview their scores and comments and appeal to a committee of their peers and group leaders if they object to a particular comment being posted. I will let you know how that plays out.
So far, we have been enjoying positive feedback about the initiative, including newspaper articles and editorials, which has been very gratifying.
What do you think?
Ira S. Nash, MD, FACP, is the senior vice president and executive director of the North Shore-LIJ Medical Group, and a professor of Cardiology and Population Health at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine. He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Diseases and was in the private practice of cardiology before joining the full-time faculty of Massachusetts General Hospital. He then held a number of senior positions at Mount Sinai Medical Center prior to joining North Shore-LIJ. He is married with two daughters and enjoys cars, reading biographies and histories, and following his favorite baseball team, the New York Yankees, when not practicing medicine. This post originally appeared at his blog, Ausculation.