Online physician reviews bring transparency, engagement

At the University of Utah Health Care (UUHC) system, web traffic is sky high as patients sign on to rate and review their physicians, discuss the quality of their care, and browse experiences from other consumers.  In conjunction with Press Ganey, UUHC has been emailing a patient satisfaction survey to everyone who books an appointment, and posting both positive and negative comments online for all to see.
Started in December of 2012 as a first-of-its-kind project, the initiative aims to bring transparency to the healthcare system and engage patients who provide valuable feedback to physicians, nurses, and other staff members.  With questions about friendliness, decision-making, time and attention, confidence, and discharge instructions, the survey attempts to understand the patient experience and how providers can build trust and improve their methods of communication.
The results have been a surge in web traffic, with page views jumping from 32,000 to 122,000 in March 2014, and a strong interest from other healthcare organizations about doing the same. “There are many systems out there looking at how to do this,” said Brian Gresh, senior director of interactive marketing at University of Utah Health Care. “We’re pleased that we’ve set the bar high and can serve as a model in the U.S. for how to post physician reviews online successfully.”
UUHC uses the data from about 40,000 patient surveys to rate its physicians on a five-star scale.  While the hospital system does reserve the right not to post slanderous, profane, or inappropriate comments, it has published 99.5% of feedback, the website says, without editing.
“The majority of our patients are very generous with their comments, clearly articulating the value we provide. We understand transparency is the expectation for online rankings and critical comments are not edited or removed,” said Thomas Miller, MD, Chief Medical Officer, when the system debuted the program.
“It’s clear patients and consumers making health care decisions want online access to trusted reviews from their peers,” he added. “We recognized we were collecting hundreds of reviews each year for each of our 1,200 physicians, but only sharing the information internally. Most physician review sites have fewer than a dozen reviews. It made sense to make our data publicly available.”

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