When patients choose a doctor, they are often relying on peer reviews from other patients or outside factors such as proximity to home or ease of parking. Rarely do patients check on health outcomes by doctor or facility. The reason for this is simple- up until very recently that sort of empirical data hasn’t been readily available.
It’s also important for patients to question whether they really need a particular surgical procedure or test. Oftentimes the outcomes aren’t as beneficial as the patient is expecting. After patients determine whether they actually need a procedure, they can find a doctor who is best qualified to perform it.
There has been data collected on every physician and every procedure for decades, but it has not always been available to the public. In 2014 a 30-year prohibition on access to this data was reversed and now it can be analyzed and used to give patients a chance to choose the best possible doctor for their needs.
Choosing a doctor based on health outcomes is more likely to garner a better result than relying on patient satisfaction surveys. In fact, studies have shown that patient satisfaction is often negatively correlated with patient outcomes. In other words, the happier a patient is with his doctor, the more likely he or she is to experience a bad outcome. This is likely due to a number of different factors. When a doctor is trying to make a patient happy, he or she is more likely to prescribe unnecessary medications or tests, leading to additional complications. Patients are happy they feel taken seriously, doctors get good subjective patient ratings, but the outcomes are often worse for the patient.
It’s important to educate patients about the right and wrong way to make health decisions.
Learn more about empirical doctor ratings based on facts, not feelings, from this infographic.