Wall Street Journal Examines Increased Use of Online Surveys To Compare Patient Experiences
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday examined the efforts of health insurance providers and health groups to increase "the use of online survey tools to help consumers judge whether their care meets the best standards set by medical experts."
Such surveys are developed to "determine whether doctors are following the latest medical evidence, ordering the right tests and asking the right questions during office visits," the Journal reports. However, the surveys also help gather information about physician performance through patient feedback.
One of the "most ambitious efforts" -- to be announced Wednesday by the health care ratings company Health Grades -- is the CompareYourCare Web site, which grades care based on national treatment guidelines, according to the Journal. The surveys are customized for specific conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, and include a general health tool to determine whether doctors are complying with recommendations for screenings and counseling.
In addition, CMS plans to launch later this year a Web site called Hospital Compare that will provide patients with information on how thousands of hospitals provide care for heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia patients, while Medicare will develop a survey to gather consumer data on inpatient care and post results online. A similar survey will rate patients' experiences with physicians.
The Journal reports that "some doctors may see comparison tools and patient surveys as yet another infringement on their ability to practice medicine as they see fit." However, Health Grades Senior Vice President of Strategic Development John Morrow said the surveys could improve physician-patient relationships.
Mark Fisher, CEO of the Minnesota Healthcare Network, said that as more health care costs are being shifted to patients, "they need an unbiased source of information to help them make decisions." He added, "And we've seen the physicians do a 180-degree turn as they realize that if patients aren't satisfied, they may not come back" (Landro, Wall Street Journal, 2/23).