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VUMC adopting online provider rating system

Mar. 3, 2016, 9:12 AM

For many years, patients who came to Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) for care would receive a survey asking, among other things, about how they rated the experience — including the professionalism and friendliness of the physician or other health care provider.

Like most institutions that work with the public, VUMC used that information internally to find areas where improvement was needed and to pass on compliments to people who rated highly on the surveys.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is planning a process that will provide information on patient ratings of health care providers, along with comments from patients, directly to the public on the Medical Center website. (iStock)

Now, a Transparency Committee comprised of physician leaders and others from VUMC, is planning a process that will provide information about patient ratings of health care providers, along with comments from patients, directly to the public on the Medical Center’s website.

VUMC’s new patient satisfaction survey vendor is Press Ganey.

The move to share physician patient satisfaction scores and comments publicly is overseen by Paul Sternberg Jr., M.D., Chief Patient Experience Officer for VUMC.

“With our new vendor, Press Ganey, we will be measuring our patient satisfaction against a significantly larger database of peer hospitals and clinicians,” Sternberg said. “One of the main reasons we switched survey vendors is to provide us with a more meaningful benchmark in order to continue to promote the importance of extraordinary service to our patients and their families. This is a logical next step in that process.”

Among the institutions already publicly sharing patient satisfaction data are the University of Utah and Wake Forest.

And, Sternberg added, in a world in which restaurant reviews on Yelp and service provider reviews on Angie’s List are part of the consumer landscape, patients increasingly expect to find similar ratings of health care providers.

The Press Ganey ratings are provided in the familiar “five star” format, in which areas such as friendliness, clarity of explanations and level of confidence in the provider will be ranked from one (“very poor”) to five (“very good”). When the system becomes operative and public, these scores will be averaged and presented as a “star” ranking by each provider’s profile on the Medical Center website.

“We know that online reviews are a powerful tool used by patients to choose providers, and since we know that our doctors and nurse practitioners are among the best in the country, they will do very well when rated by patients,” Sternberg said.

Studies also indicate that when provider scores and patient comments are publicly posted, provider scores tend to get better over time.

The transition to public transparency of comments and ratings will occur over the next few months, with data and comments first provided only to individual providers, then to groups within the Medical Center, with the goal of taking the information public in July.

Even then, not all providers will be ranked and not all comments will be posted. A minimum of 30 ratings will be required before a provider’s rating will be public, since it takes that many to get a meaningful sample from patients.

Also, while comments will not be removed because they are negative — transparency is needed for the ratings and comments to be useful — any comment that reveals protected health information, contains abusive language or is not germane to the provider will not be posted.

Providers who wish to improve patient relation skills will be provided tools to do so by Press Ganey.

As well, VUMC will create a variety of in-house programs to optimize patient satisfaction performance.

“We are very proud of our superb clinicians, and are confident that this process will showcase the excellence of our doctors, while also allowing VanderbiltHealth.com to be the source of truth for patient reviews,” Sternberg said.

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