In the age of faux Google reviews used to boost business, a Memphis health organization has launched a legitimate way to determine whether or not a local doctor or medical center comes highly recommended.
Healthy Memphis Common Table has recently added new data to its Health Care Quality Matters website, now providing public reports and ratings for hospitals, medical offices, and patient experiences.
Patricia Tosti, project manager for the Common Table, said the website's new additions will not only benefit patients but also medical practices and physicians, enabling them to view their strengths and weaknesses.
"They can log into their own private and secure portal and find out what their ratings are, and they can compare it to their peers locally," Tosti said. "Also, the organization has a public report available. It can help physicians take a look at areas where they're doing really well and also areas where there's room for improvement."
Aside from the ratings of medical establishments, the website also provides specific information regarding four areas: diabetes, heart disease, women's care, and pediatrics. The site explains what each of the areas are, their risk factors, and some community statistics.
Although the website has been active for years, the new data was made accessible to public viewers at the end of April. The Common Table hopes that it will help patients determine which medical practices will provide them with the best care.
"Along with word-of-mouth about what physician to choose, this can be another element in selecting a physician in the community," Tosti said. "It's [also a good tool] for people who are new to the community."
More than 130 medical establishments are rated on a scale from best to good to fair. Medical establishments featured on the website include Baptist Memorial Hospital, Delta Medical Center, St. Francis Hospital, and Frayser Medical Center.
The establishments are rated based on claims data submitted to health insurance companies, which provides the information to the Common Table.
Dr. Susan Nelson of Harbor of Health said she's unhappy with her medical practice's current rating on diabetes care but thinks the website will push the Harbor of Health to improve.
"My group's ratings are terrible," said Nelson, a family practice doctor. "I realized that that either means that they don't have good data or we need to improve. Either way, I think it's a positive thing because it's going to get me to look at those issues and see if we're doing the things that they're reporting on. Or if not, why are our ratings so low? What can we do to make that better?"
The website provides public reports and ratings on hospitals, patient experiences, and medical offices. Current medical office information and ratings on the website are from 2010 and 2011.
Patients aren't allowed to log on and rate offices and hospitals currently. However, customers can provide feedback on their experience with a particular practice or physician. An establishment's rating can be improved or decreased based on this. Nelson thinks this may be one of the website's drawbacks.
"This quality reporting is confusing for doctors and patients initially," Nelson said. "Patients don't really know what to do with that information. Doctors are confused, because it's only a small segment of your practice. Say you don't do this one test right, does that mean that you're a bad doctor? No. It's only a part of the picture. Initially, it's going to be confusing for everybody who's choosing it, but I think it will get better and ultimately be to everybody's benefit."