A new online tool allows Greater Cincinnati health care consumers to discover how patients rate their experience with their primary care physician. Patient satisfaction survey results for almost 400 providers in 102 local practices are now available on YourHealthMatters.org. Physicians from The Christ Hospital, St. Elizabeth and Tri-Health systems, as well as six independent practices, and Primed practices in the Dayton area are participating. Mercy System practices will be reporting in December of this year. UC physician practices will be reporting in early 2014.
“This is like agreeing to publish your report card no matter what the grades and we know it wasn’t an easy thing to agree do,” said Dr. Richard Shonk, Chief Medical Officer for the Health Collaborative, the organization behind the YourHealthMatter’s website. “It is often said that what is measured gets improved and these practices are clearly willing to not only measure and improve, but allow patients and potential patients to see their results.”
The results are based on answers to a validated survey tool called the Clinician and Group- Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CG-CAHPS). The CG-CAHPS survey is mailed quarterly to a random sample of patients who visited their doctor in the previous 12 months. The answers are compiled by an independent research company. The patient survey covers the following:
- Getting Care When Needed- This is a composite of questions related to being able to make appointments and get information when needed
- How Well Doctors Communicate- Another composite score related to how well the doctor listened, related to the patient, and conveyed information
- Courteous and Helpful Office Staff- A series of questions related to how the non-physician employees of the office related to the patient
- Doctors with an Exceptional Rating- This is the percentage of patients who rated their Doctor Exceptional; the highest rating on the survey.
Overall, local doctors got the best grades for communication. On average, local doctors had 93% of patients giving them positive marks for communication. Right behind was a courteous and helpful staff, with 91% being the local average. 83% of patients gave their doctor the highest rating of exceptional for an overall score. The area where there was the most room for improvement was related to access. Only 59% of patients were positive about their ability to be seen in the practice or get answers in a time frame that met their expectations.
There are several Websites in the Greater Cincinnati market that allow patients to rate their physician and post comments. Typically, the rating is based on a small number of patients comfortable expressing themselves in an on-line forum and often the comments are triggered by a particularly positive or negative experience. The CG-CAPHS survey is mailed to a random sample of patients for a larger, more reliable cross-section of responses that cannot be skewed by a specific episode or a few extreme opinions. Having this validated data is helpful for several reasons. It provides consumers with better information as they make decisions about their health care. It also gives practices objective data to confirm what they are doing right, and identify areas where they need to improve.
“Without feedback, we can only give our best guess about how to best serve our patients,” said Karl Schmitt, M.D., Medical Director of Quality at St. Elizabeth Physicians. “The chance to receive candid, broad-based feedback on the things most important to them, whether that is reassuring or unexpected, is our opportunity to truly make our practice into our patient’s medical home.”
The Health Collaborative has been a local and national pioneer in providing consumers objective information about health care quality. The YourHealthMatters.org Website launched in 2011 with ratings for primary care doctors related to their treatment of several serious but common medical conditions, including diabetes. In total, nearly 600 primary care providers voluntarily submit quality data to the Website. Earlier this year, the Website added ratings for local hospitals.
“The addition of patient experience results for primary care doctors is a big step forward for us,” said Judy Hirsh, Director of Consumer Strategy and Programs at the Health Collaborative. “This is information every patient can relate to whether they have the flu or a serious chronic condition. It’s also something the practices want to get right so we know they are working hard to improve their scores and give their patients the best experience possible.”