This is what patients value most, according to 7 million physician reviews

While patients value clinical quality of care, an analysis of seven million published physician reviews by Healthgrades and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) shows that more than half of reviews cite nonclinical factors, such as a physician's compassion, personality, and bedside manner.

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The report analyzed 7 million published reviews of physicians by their patients, including one million open-comment reviews and 6 million star ratings. Healthgrades performed an n-gram analysis of a sample of the open comment reviews to determine the factors most associated with both positive and negative reviews.

Overall, the analysis found that feedback was positive, with the average review including a four-star rating out of a possible five stars. But the vast majority of the ratings fell at either the highest or lowest rating levels: Almost 70% of ratings were five-star ratings, while 22% were one star.

Across both positive and negative reviews, nonclinical factors were key in patients' ratings. The most important factor, for instance, was the amount of face-to-face time they got with their doctor, including their doctor's willingness to answer questions, listen to concerns, and make sure that patients completely understood their diagnosis or procedure.

Further, 52% of patients cited one of several nonclinical factors in their reviews:

  • Bedside manner;
  • Comfort;
  • Compassion;
  • Patience; or
  • Personality.

The analysis also found that 23% of patients mentioned appointment scheduling, communication, doctor's knowledge, doctor's time, and insurance as important factors.

What providers should take away from the analysis

In the report, Healthgrades and MGMA said, "Health care consumers view health care first and foremost as a personal interaction and not just a medical transaction."

Halee Fischer-Wright, the CEO of MGMA—which represents over 40,000 practice administrators and over 12,000 medical group practices and other health care organizations—added that the analysis shows "what most people already intuitively know: the patient experience extends deeper and further than the walls of a surgical suite or exam room." She added, "Our data corroborates the crucial nature of our members' role in the support of the physician-patient relationship through people, process and technology."

Brad Bowman, CMO of Healthgrades, said that the analysis shows "that patients don't just want to see a doctor; they want to be seen. Knowing how these factors influence the patient experience gives providers the opportunity to better serve these personal aspects of care, resulting in a healthier overall population" (Japsen, Forbes, 3/28; Rege, Becker's Hospital Review, 3/28).

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