UPMC rated its own doctors—and then posted the ratings for everyone to see

'We believe that patient feedback, good or bad, will only make us better,' CMO says

Get the Advisory Board's expert take on this story.

UPMC this week published its own ratings for more than 1,600 of its providers online, alongside comments received from patient surveys.

Details of ratings, comments

The five-star ratings for providers—including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and midwives—were based on six criteria taken from more than 200,000 patient satisfaction surveys on whether clinicians:

  • Gave clear explanations;
  • Listened carefully to the patient;
  • Provided easy-to-understand information about the patient's health questions or concerns;
  • Appeared to be knowledgeable about the key information about the patient's medical history;
  • Demonstrated respect for what the patient had to say; and
  • Spent sufficient time with the patient.

Providers qualified for a rating if they had received 30 or more patient surveys in the past 18 months.

UPMC also posted about 20,000 comments from the surveys about individual providers. For example, one posted comment says, "Very kind and considerate the kind of doctor you wish there were more of!!" But another says "I don't feel that she really listened to what I had to say. She was too busy typing or cutting me off before I would finish."

The health system says that providers who receive negative comments can appeal to a board of their peers to have the feedback not be posted on the site. However, UPMC says that it plans to publish the majority of comments, except for cases of protected information, profanity, or irrelevant content. According to UPMC Chief Quality Officer Tami Minnier, most of the comments are positive.

The ratings are available via UMPC's website. Patients can use UPMC's tool to search by several criteria, including by location, specialty, and a provider's last name.

Overall, UPMC providers received an average star rating of 4.8 out of five, with the lowest-ranked provider receiving 3.7 stars.

According to Amy Ranier, the health system's director of patient experience, UMPC modeled its ratings of those published by University of Utah Health Care, which was the first health system to post its patient survey results online in 2012. A few other systems have since posted provider ratings online, although most only use such data internally, Ben Schmitt reports for Tribune Live.

Why UPMC posted the ratings online

Minnier says UPMC posted the ratings and comments because the organization wants "to reinforce to our patients that we hear you, and we take your feedback seriously."

"We believe that patient feedback, good or bad, will only make us better," adds Steven Shapiro, UPMC's CMO and chief science officer.

And Joel Nelson, chair of UPMC's urology department, says that the rating system could provide better information to patients than other ratings websites that may post ratings based on just a few comments, even from individuals who were not UPMC patients.

Minnier says that while some UPMC providers may be skeptical of the public ratings now, she expects such clinicians will eventually embrace the system (Schmitt, TribLive, 8/3; WPXI, 8/4; AP/Washington Times, 8/4; UPMC release, 8/4; UPMC website, accessed 8/4).

The Advisory Board's take

Alicia Daugherty, Marketing and Planning Leadership Council

In a world where we can see reviews and photos of not just hotels, but often specific hotel rooms, it's only natural that consumers are interested in the same level of information about their physicians and advanced practitioners.

In our recent national survey of patients who self-referred to a specialist, 75% did at least some research before selecting a physician. The most common source of information was friends and family, but the second most popular was a hospital or physician's website. Very few consumers used third-party rating sites or "top doctors" lists. 

Interestingly, our survey respondents weighted online patient reviews as being just as important as quality scores. Still, five other factors, including family or friend recommendation, hospital affiliation, and distance were rated as more important to their choice of specialist. 

Posting reviews directly on their own website can accomplish several goals. First, it helps a provider organization reach these consumer researchers and keep them on your site as they do their research. It also communicates a level of transparency that helps builds trust with consumers. First movers in this space will get more credit there than late adopters will. And finally, it allows providers to monitor and respond to concerns raised in comments, and use those to make improvements.

What hospitals overlook about the patient experience

Patient experience is top of mind for health care providers across the country. And every member of the hospital care team—from administrators to service line leaders and everyone in between—is vital in ensuring a patient is comfortable and kept informed from entry to discharge.

The Daily Briefing's Clare Rizer recently sat down with Jessica Suchy, a senior director for Advisory Board Performance Technologies and dedicated advisor for iRound's patient experience tool, to understand how health care's approach to patient experience is being transformed.

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