- U.S. News & World Report has teamed up with the Binary Fountain to include patient experience ratings on its Doctor Finder site.
- Consumers will now be able to see an overall patient satisfaction rating for 10 patient experience metrics, including ability to answer questions and clarity of instructions.
- Binary Fountain aggregates patient comments from more than 100 online sources and uses natural language processing to mine insights and arrive at a rating.
In addition to communication and clarity of instructions, the metrics include: thoroughness of examination, attitude, follow-up, amount of time spent with patient, past success, reputation, inclusion of patient in decisions and timely turnaround on results.
In a recent Binary Fountain survey, 95% of respondents said online ratings and reviews are “somewhat” or “very” reliable and 75% said such sites had helped sway their choice of doctor.
But not all doctors like online reviews. Patients are often more motivated to complain online about a bad experience than to praise a doctor who delivered a good one. Negative reviews also may unfairly target the doctor for something, such as insurance plan coverage, that is beyond his or her control.
A study of urologists’ ratings on four websites found those with more patients tended to have lower online ratings than urologists with fewer patients. Specifically, the doctors’ ratings dropped 0.04 for every 100 patients they had. In another study at the University of California-Davis, patients rated their doctors 10 to 20 points lower when specific requests were denied.
Studies have also raised questions about the accuracy and usefulness of online ratings. A review of physicians’ ratings on five popular sites concluded they fail to predict quality of care and clinical performance and should not be the sole source for selecting a doctor. “Scores are consistent across platforms, suggesting that they jointly measure a latent construct that is unrelated to performance,” according to the research letter published in JAMIA.
Still, patient experience matters. In a recent analysis of nearly 7 million online patient reviews, more than half cited compassion, comfort, patience, personality and bedside manner as key to a good patient experience.
U.S. News plans to add patient experience data to doctor profiles in multiple specialties over the next several months. The first category will be family medicine physicians.