In 2006, Zagat surveys (of restaurant fame) started a program to survey plan participants of Wellpoint, Anthem Blue Cross and BC/BS of
“It is curious that they would go to a company that had no experience in health care to try
to find out how good a doctor is,” said Dr. William Handelman, a kidney specialist in
Ya think so? More importantly – what patients are often interested in, and can assess, is not what physicians may consider quality. Nevertheless, it certainly weighs in decisions as to which physician to go to.
My post yesterday told of a physician who realized that his conversation with a patient was going from bad to worse, and because of his rushed manner and poor communication, he was not helping his patient. In that instance, the physician was straightforward with the patient and asked to start again – which he did with good results.
There are a small number of “go to” physicians out there who clearly stand out in their field. Beyond those, however, there are choices, and how a physician and patient (and family) interact is an important part of the treatment and care. The Zagat restaurant surveys are subjective, yet the ratings and, more importantly, the comments are what is important to the user. If there were comments posted about a physician who said that a patient had trouble getting a call back, well, if I’m going to go to that physician, I might ask about the call back policy (this is a pet peeve of mine). As I’ve written before, one family member goes to a physician who seems to be clinically competent, and one to one takes time with their patients. Oh – they also have a nurse practitioner, which is very useful for “routine” colds, etc. That said, they let me down in never calling back until the end of the day in an urgent situation, so I’m forewarned. A tradeoff, and fortunately a rare situation for us. But yes, I would warn anyone who we referred to this physician. Does it impact quality of care? Maybe. Subjective? You bet. My response? Tough – fix your practice.
For any number of reasons, you are not going to please every patient and family member. But when comments are made about specific aspects if your practice, well, if one person was moved enough to write about it, then there are undoubtedly more out there with similar impressions. Your job is to take a look at what is going on and fix it – change it, explain it, stop it – but respond.
There are a lot of rating services out there, including Health Grade, Yelp and others. For you, this is free insight into how others see you – more importantly, there are people who care enough to say so. When they stop speaking out, they don’t care.