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Role of physician review sites as patient engagement tool still unsettled

Industry-wide opinion about how much, if any, say patients should have in the care process is largely unsettled.  However, according to a recent ZocDoc survey, most physicians are aware of the feedback patients leave in online reviews of their care. The study said 85% of respondents “proactively monitor online reviews about themselves.” More than half of physicians (62%) found their reviews overall to be “fair,” ranking them somewhere between four and seven out of 10.

Though a high percentage of physicians admit to viewing patient critiques, other data suggests they don’t put much stock in patients’ post-care opinions. A study from the American College of Physician Executives revealed that only 12% of physicians thought such review sites were helpful and should be made more widely available to patients. On the flip side, 26% of respondents agreed that patient review sites are a “nuisance that provides no benefit.”

Some hospitals are moving ahead with taking patient feedback into consideration, regardless of how individual physicians feel about the practice. The University of Pennsylvania Health System recently completed a three-month pilot with a patient feedback program, at the conclusion of which it signed a multiyear contract to use the program in their facilities. The service is called Yorn, which stands for “your opinion, right now,” and allows patients to send messages directly to hospital staff via smartphone or other devices.

The trend of review sites has caught on outside the U.S., with India experiencing particularly strong adoption. India has seen a reduction in family physicians and a rise in private practitioners, resulting in more patients looking for trusted physicians. A popular patient review site, suggestadoctor.in, has more than 2,000 reviews. The site is unique because it allows patients to post their experiences and also lets physicians respond to any negative reviews, a feature that may become common if more facilities take Penn Medicine’s approach and integrate patient feedback into their care processes.

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