Last month, BWH became the first hospital in Boston to join a number of leading institutions around the country in making ambulatory patient experience scores available to the public.
All departments that have providers seeing patients in an outpatient clinic at BWH will participate in this initiative once it’s fully implemented. The program’s goal is to help patients make informed decisions when seeking ambulatory care and to help BWH physicians continually improve their practice.
The scores, based on patient satisfaction surveys electronically administered by Press Ganey Associates, can be viewed in a provider’s entry in the physician directory at BrighamandWomens.org. They include ratings, based on a five-star system for various categories, as well as comments from patients.
In July, the first wave of departments—Neurology, Neurosurgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Orthopaedic Surgery—went live with patient ratings and comments. All departments that see patients in ambulatory clinics will follow suit by the end of this year.
By sharing performance data about physicians—positive and negative—BWH is able to continue building trust with patients through transparency, said Chief Quality Officer Allen Kachalia, MD.
“We believe the Brigham is one of the best places for people to receive care, and we want to share our data so everyone can see that as well,” Kachalia said. “What I’ve been so impressed by is our leadership’s commitment to transparency hospital-wide—it has been steadfast.”
As momentum in transparency and public reporting grows across the health care industry, approximately 50 institutions around the country, including BWH, Cleveland Clinic and the University of Utah, are making patient experience scores publicly available, according to Thomas Lee, MD, chief medical officer at Press Ganey and a primary care physician in the Phyllis Jen Center at BWH.
For several years, BWH has surveyed patients following outpatient visits using a survey administered by Press Ganey, which tracks the hospital’s patient satisfaction data. Patient comments come from a portion of the survey that asks 10 questions about the care provided by the physician.
Before patient ratings and comments are posted publically, a clinician must have received ratings from at least 20 patients over the past 12 months. All comments are screened by staff from BWH’s Quality and Safety team to ensure that they do not contain offensive language, libelous material, protected health information or information that does not pertain to the clinician from that visit.
James Kang, MD, chair of Orthopaedic Surgery, stressed how important it is to have patient feedback shared publicly. Kang had a positive experience with the physician ratings system at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he practiced before joining BWH last September.
“There’s no better way to help a physician improve than to get feedback from the people who put their trust in our hands every day,” he said. “As a department chair, I want that exposure. It helps me to not only keep a pulse on what our physicians are doing, but it also gives me the opportunity to help make them even better caregivers.”
For Orthopaedic surgeon Andreas Gomoll, MD, giving his patients the ability to rate his performance is something he fully stands by. When physicians are forthcoming about their strengths and weaknesses, he explains, it empowers patients because they are helping to improve the quality of care.
“What’s more personal than health care?” Gomoll asked. “Picking your doctor is like picking someone out to be a part of your family. When I take care of patients, our relationships come with trust, and trust only comes with transparency.”