SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah hospitals and clinics are going on six months of posting doctor ratings online for all to see, and other facilities are following suit.
When the ratings system first started, the university was gathering the data anyway through patient satisfaction surveys and decided to move toward more transparency by posting those ratings online.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Thomas Miller said ratings sites transformed the travel and hotel industry. As ratings for the university's doctors sit now, Miller said the lowest score is 78 and their average is 94. The ratings make it as easy as going to Google and searching for a doctor's name.
"People want to seek each other's experiences out, to determine what their experience might be," Miller said.
The demand for transparency is one of the driving forces behind Consumer Reports teaming up with Massachusetts Health Quality Partners (MHQP) to post doctor ratings online, like the U of U. MHQP has been actively surveying consumer data regarding doctors and reporting it since 2006.
What the U of U surveys rate
- 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
Rating doctors is a trend that continues to gain traction. Other sites have popped up, like ratemds.com and healthgrades.com, but oftentimes these sites rely on anonymous posters. One person with an ax to grind could lower a doctor's score dramatically.
Miller said having more surveys go into the ratings, like with the U of U service, makes them more truthful.
"It's very important to us that our patients believe they are getting the best care they can," Miller said. "Many times patients can't judge the technical skills of the physician, so they have to rely on what others think about the relationship. That's true about so many human interactions."
As to how doctors are rated, there are a myriad of aspects taken into consideration. MHQP Executive Director Barbara Rabson said surveys assess the one-on-one experiences with doctor, like whether the doctor is a good listener and spends time with each patient.
"Studies show that the better the patient experience, the better the clinical outcome," she said in an interview with the Standard-Examiner.