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Why my health system collects and publishes patient reviews

Topic: Why my health system collects and publishes patient reviews

Health care has long been a laggard in a world racing to embrace customer engagement, empowerment, and feedback. The bold entrance of online consumer companies like Yelp.com and others into the health care sphere has made it clear that public reviews of physicians’ performance are unavoidable and inevitable. Rather than lament this trend, physicians and health care systems should welcome the opinions of our patients, learn from them, and share them with the public.

It’s no secret that the US health care system needs to improve. Consumers — in this case patients and employers — have more collective power to influence change than they realize by choosing how, where, and from whom they get health care. Uber, Nordstrom, and many other companies seek their customers’ opinions and respond to them. Health care needs to follow suit to become the patient-centered service industry that it should be.

The University of Utah, where I work, began collecting patient feedback early on and was the first health system in the US to publicly post patients’ reviews of their providers. It has paid off in many ways. Here are five reasons why patients should take a few minutes to write reviews of their physicians and why physicians and health systems should collect and publicly share those reviews.

Put the patient front and center.

A Harvard Business Review article on customer feedback emphasized that the strongest feedback loops “keep the customer front and center across the entire organization.” In most service industries, this is a no-brainer. In health care, historically, the physician knew best.

My predecessor at the University of Utah, Dr. A. Lorris Betz, tapped “customer feedback” almost a decade ago. In 2008, he launched the university’s Exceptional Patient Experience initiative to make patient feedback a driving force in our health care system. We began collecting information from patients about their experiences with their physicians and used a database of feedback responses to benchmark the scores that doctors received compared to their peers nationwide. We shared with our doctors their patients’ feedback, at first confidentially.

We went public in December 2012 and started posting patients’ reviews online. That signaled their importance in our organization and our larger community. We now get, and post, roughly 100,000 reviews a year that are directed towards our physicians and their teams.

We aren’t alone in doing this. Over the past four years, Piedmont Healthcare, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Northwell Health, Stanford, Cleveland Clinic, University of Pittsburgh, Duke, and more than 50 others have embraced transparency for their patients.

Topic Discussed: Why my health system collects and publishes patient reviews

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