(HealthNewsDigest.com) - Rush University Medical Center is one of only a handful of academic medical centers across the country to make patient comments about their doctors publicly available in its online physician directory. The effort puts Rush among the leaders of the growing trend of increased transparency in health care by providing patients with as much information as possible as they make decisions about their care.
For nearly three years, Rush has been including patient ratings, from one to five stars, as part of the physician profiles available to the public on the Medical Center’s Find a Doctor website. This fall, Rush also began posting comments from patients about their physicians in these profiles.
The comments are provided by Press Ganey Associates, a firm that routinely surveys Rush patients and other patients nationwide about their experiences with health care organizations and providers. Because these patient experience scores are strong indicators of the quality of care being delivered, they’re watched closely by health care organizations across the country.
“We are proud to be able provide our existing and potential patients with more complete information to make decisions about their health care, and to share the overwhelmingly positive feedback from existing patients,” said Dr. Omar B. Lateef, Rush’s chief medical officer and senior vice president of clinical affairs.
Comments updated monthly
Rush shows ratings and comments for any physician or other care provider who receives 30 or more surveys from patients in a 12-month period. In the same way that the star ratings on the website are refreshed on a rolling 12-month average, based on Press Ganey survey results, the provider patient comments will be refreshed as well.
Comments are shown in the order in which they are submitted. Each month, the oldest comments rotate out and the newest comments are displayed. Rush’s patient relations team works with an outside company to manage the posting and removal of comments and updating the star ratings.
Physicians have the chance to review the comments before they are posted, and they can appeal comments that raise concerns to a committee of the medical staff. After the review period ends, comments are displayed on the website, with the exception of those not directly related to the provider, such as feedback about parking or billing, for example. Rush’s risk management department reviews comments as well to prevent libelous or otherwise inappropriate comments from being posted.
“Our goal is to be respectful of both providers and patients while being as transparent as possible,” Lateef said.
Patient feedback helps others choose doctors with confidence
Rush long has been on the leading edge of the transparency movement in health care. Since 2014, physicians at Rush have been able to view their own patient feedback information and compare it to that of other physicians at Rush University Medical Center’s electronic medical record system. Rush became only the fifth hospital in the nation to go public with patient feedback about providers when it debuted the star ratings on the Find a Doctor site in January of 2015.
Since then, Rush leaders and physicians have been exploring additional ways to share information with prospective patients.
Research has shown that patients are going to the internet to find physicians, and many are visiting third-party websites that lack standards and accuracy. As a result, a handful of poor ratings on those sites can lead to misleadingly low physician scores.
“We have known for some time that the overwhelming majority of patient comments about Rush providers are very positive, but our patients do not have access to our internal survey results,” Lateef said. “Using the upgraded patient feedback area on our official Find a Doctor site will get them the most accurate information as they look to find a physician.”
Including comments also may help doctors provide better care
Top performing health care organizations across the country are sharing patient feedback with the public through their websites. Rush joins Cleveland Clinic, University of Utah Health Care, Wake Forest Baptist Health and others that have similar processes for posting patient comments.
One of those organizations, University of Utah Health Care, saw patient satisfaction scores rise after patient comments were made public, according to a study published in 2016 in the journal Academic Medicine.
“We think this effort will help our providers, as well,” Lateef said. “Having this feedback front and center will help us find ways to provide even better care to the communities we serve.”