Leadership at the North Shore-LIJ Medical Group, a large multispecialty practice with more than 2,000 physicians in the Long Island, N.Y., area, has taken a somewhat unique approach to the online physician review phenomenon.
They're doing it on their own.
Earlier this year, the medical group launched a ratings and review system on their doctors' online profile pages. To establish the ratings, North Shore-LIJ Medical Group uses industry standard survey data administered by Press Ganey, sent either through e-mail or by regular snail mail. The survey also includes an area for comments about the doctor, which is included on the profile page.
"We're not doing this to embarrass anyone. The truth is [physicians] are already being rated and we want to do a better job of it," says Ira Nash, an internal medicine physician and senior vice president of the North Shore-LIJ Medical Group. "Our primary motivation was to provide good information to patients and potential patients. It was to elevate the prominence we give organizationally to providing patients an excellent experience. We take that seriously and we're willing to share our doctors' ratings with the world to prove we take it serious and we do a good job with it."
The online physician ratings at North Shore-LIJ Medical went live in late August. Already, Nash says there are scores and comments for more than 900 doctors.
The 10-question survey is tied into the medical group's billing system so when a physician sees a patient in outpatient, it's randomly sent out. The random sampling of patients excludes those who were recently hospitalized, as well as those who have already filled out a survey. This process, Nash says, ensures that physicians are actually rated by their own patients, which doesn't happen on popular websites like Yelp, Vitals, or HealthGrades.
North Shore-LIJ also allows doctors the chance to appeal a rating, another feature the popular sites don't have. They also ensure there is a fair sample size for ratings. "We [compiled data over the course of]18 months … we don't post any comments or results unless a doctor has received at least 30 surveys. We think that's the minimum for statistical significance," he says. The only exception is if a doctor has nearly 30 surveys filled out and requests their information be made public.
North Shore-LIJ Medical isn't the only group that is taking this growing phenomenon into their own hands. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a large academic health system in Western Pennsylvania, Intermountain Healthcare, a health system in the Rocky Mountain region, and academic medical center, Cleveland Clinic have done the same.
"We're not trying to make a general statement here. We believe in transparency as a general rule and as a tool for internal improvement. I would welcome everybody else in the country doing this. Increasingly, our patients expect to find information about their physicians online and I would prefer to see this deliberate transparency rather than surrendering this function to Yelp or somebody else," Nash says.