For Transparency in Healthcare, Publish Your Quality Scores

For Transparency in Healthcare, Publish Your Quality Scores

Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta plunged headfirst into transparency when Chief Consumer Officer Matt Gove decided four years ago to publish physician quality scores online – without a mechanism for doctors to question feedback.

“The only censorship of reviews is for defamatory content, profanity or protected health information,” Gove explained. “Otherwise, we publish it.”

When Gove launched the project, he knew that consumers were reading physician reviews prior to coming to the hospital.

“My job is to drive revenue,” he said. “So that means I need to help people that want our services get in the door the way they want to get in.”

This may feel risky, but Gove argued that publishing physician quality scores enables him to monitor a conversation that’s already happening.

Moreover, he wants the clicks. When Gove launched Piedmont’s physician review portal, he suspected that if his health system didn’t build the platform, potential patients would look elsewhere.

“We knew back in 2012 that other companies in healthcare were essentially hijacking traffic that was meant for our physician pages, and using that traffic to sell advertising or enhanced listings back to us,” he said. “I was very pissed.”

Gove also knew that self-publishing reviews would ensure information was up-to-date and correct. Today, the system publishes quality scores for more than a thousand of its doctors.

Perhaps surprisingly, it was easy to get the doctors on board.

“One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about physicians is they are, as a group, evidence-based,” Gove said. “If you present them with data that proves your point, they agree.”

It helped, he said, that he prepared physicians by showing them how their quality scores would look before deploying the platform. “I knew if their search would come up first when they googled themselves, that they would get on board,” he said.

But the main reason there were so few hurdles to overcome is that Piedmont’s physicians are rated extremely well. As a group, they average a 90-percent quality score, according to healthcare analytics organization Press Ganey.

In other words, when there’s good information to share, and a demand from patients to read it, why not publish it yourself?

“Every organization that I’m aware of in healthcare or health systems claims they are patient-centric,” Gove said. “If you’re really patient-centric, you should have no problem surfacing this information, because patients want it.”

Jarrard Inc.