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How Much Are Hospital, Physician Star Ratings Worth to Patients?

Topic: How Much Are Hospital, Physician Star Ratings Worth to Patients?

Patients are willing to pony up a hefty medical bill if it means they can visit a hospital or physician with a high star rating, demonstrating the price of good patient satisfaction, a new study published in Health Affairs concluded.

The study found that patients would pay more to schedule a total hip or knee replacement with a healthcare provider with one more star rating. Patients would also pay more to visit a facility that is closer to home.

Clinical quality star ratings have become a key metric defining patient experience and patient satisfaction. The tools, which typically utilize a five-star scale seen in other consumer industries, are intended to help patients make informed decisions about their healthcare access. In theory, a patient scheduling an elective procedure like a total knee or hip replacement would use star ratings to compare the different providers who are able to do that joint replacement.

“However, the quality metrics included in these composite scores are not the only drivers of patient choice regarding surgeons and hospitals,” said the researchers, who hailed from Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Dell Medical School at the University of Texas Austin, Arizona State University, and Copenhagen Business School in Denmark.

“Research to date identifies factors including provider reputation, out-of-pocket expenses, distance to travel, and referral patterns as important considerations in a patient’s selection of their provider,” they continued. “The relative importance of each of these elements and the trade-offs that patients may be willing to make when it comes to provider selection have not been well studied.”

Through an analysis of about 200 older adults scheduling arthroplasty total hip or knee replacements, the team was able to determine that star rating was a prevailing factor over affordability. Study participants were willing to pay $2,607 more for every hospital star rating gained.

The financial tradeoffs were even greater for physician star ratings, with the average patient being willing to pay $3,152 more for every physician star rating gained.

There were some caveats, the team added. For example, patients who had prior experience with the healthcare system placed less emphasis and importance on both hospital and physician star ratings.

Additionally, past experience with using star ratings—or any patient satisfaction ratings in general—was tied to less emphasis on hospital and physician star ratings. In other words, patients who’d used online provider reviews before placed less value in the star ratings.

Conversely, patients who were new to online provider reviews were willing to pay $934.50 more per star rating increase than online provider review veterans.

Topic Discussed: How Much Are Hospital, Physician Star Ratings Worth to Patients?

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