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Patient Satisfaction Ratings

By April 11, 2013Commentary

With the advent of value-based purchasing, providers and health plans now see some of their compensation based upon patient experience or satisfaction ratings.  Yet the science of satisfaction ratings is in its very early stages and the factors and meaning of ratings are poorly understood.  A PriceWaterhouseCooper report describes the current state and use of health care ratings and patient satisfaction reports.   (PWC Report)   A variety of sources exist for patient satisfaction information.  The federal government collects data from consumer surveys of all provider types in Medicare and for members of Medicare Advantage plans.  Many Medicaid programs do the same.  A number of states require health plans to collect patient satisfaction data and there are various private groups like NCQA, the National Business Group on Health and others that collect or encourage the collection of this data.  Some large health plan and provider organizations seek this data on their own to improve marketing and member or patient retention.  And in the world of the internet, there are a variety of consumer driven efforts to rate experiences with providers, products or health plans, including general consumer sites like Yelp.  According to the report, many consumers are aware of the ability to access this kind of data.  A big issue, however, is the trustworthiness and credibility of the data.  On the internet, it is often not clear who is really doing the rating and their is usually no statistical validity to this kind of rating.  While government and health plan created information may have more validity, its accessibility and usability for the average consumer may not be high.  And it is not clear how closely linked patient satisfaction ratings are to actual health outcomes.  We have a long way to go to figure out if all this patient satisfaction data actually has enough value to spend the time and effort creating and sharing it.

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