High Stakes

Physician Ratings: Three Essentials to Consider

Physician Ratings Essentials

It’s nearly impossible to keep track of all the different ratings mechanisms for physicians, hospitals and health systems. And it’s absolutely impossible to control what they say or to whom they say it.

But with consumerism disrupting the healthcare delivery system, your patients are going to continue to seek out physician ratings and any other information they can find to inform their care decisions. As it turns out, a lot of that information available online may be fabricated (someone really should come up with a catchy name for this phenomenon).

So how do we navigate this emerging marketplace and ensure that some reliable metrics and ratings are available to patients?

Chicagoland’s Advocate Health Care is joining the ranks of roughly 20 health systems nationwide that are proactively providing patients with physician ratings. Using Clinician & Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers & Systems (CGCAHPS) scores, Advocate will post patient satisfaction scores on its website to help guide patients toward the right physician.

This is a big step, and it requires a commitment from leadership to building internal support and addressing potential obstacles at the outset. Some things to consider as you embark on this process:

Bring physicians into the process

Physicians are understandably wary about any sort of public rating system and concerned about the possibility of one disgruntled patient tarnishing their reputation. Don’t take any steps toward publicizing ratings without working through your Physician Advisory Council. Don’t have a Physician Advisory Council? No time like now to start one.

Control the controllable

One of the major barriers to publicizing ratings information about your physicians is an emotional one: It’s difficult to give up some control over the process. But we know that patients are already seeking and finding information about your system and your physicians from sites that you have absolutely zero control over the content. The best thing you can do is steer them toward your site, with information that you know is vetted and reliable.

Utilize independent benchmarks

Patients are becoming much savvier consumers of healthcare. Don’t try to roll out a new ratings system with opaque metrics and five-star ratings for every physician. People will see through it immediately, and you will be filed away in the “fabricated online information” bin. To maintain your place as a source of healthcare truth in your community, use independent metrics like CGCAHPS that have clearly defined scoring systems.

Giving patients this peek behind the curtain requires a great deal of trust among system leadership, physicians, and patients. If you haven’t established that trust, it isn’t the right time for your system to jump into the physician ratings fray. But after you shore up those relationships and establish channels for open communication inside your walls, it may be time to publicly demonstrate your commitment to transparency and excellent care.


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