In a blog, published August 28, 2012 Health IT CEO and thought leader Leonard Kish declared an engaged patient as the blockbuster drug of the century.1 My reaction was an immediate “Yes!” As a physician I’ve experienced many examples of patients leading more enriched lives due to their healthy decisions. When my organization started to discuss sharing patient feedback via online provider profiles, the potential of encouraging patient engagement seemed the most significant benefit.
At Marshfield Clinic, we decided to share patient feedback via a provider star rating and patient comments on our public website. This data is shared for our clinic practice providers who have a minimum of 30 returned surveys over a period of 12 months. We do not share data regarding our urgent care, emergency room or hospitalist providers as our patients are not able to choose providers in those settings. Our desire is that our patients, and future patients, will be able to use this data to assist in their health care decisions. Sharing patient feedback openly lays the foundation for a collaborative health partnership based upon transparency and trust. Once trust and an environment of collaboration are established, engagement is easier to achieve.
In addition to giving patients access to data which can impact their care decisions, transparently sharing patient feedback highlights the excellent care given by our providers. Personal sharing of positive care experiences, i.e. word-of-mouth advertising, is commonly identified as a significant business asset. In this age of social media, sharing a web link to a provider profile, along with a personal testimony, has the ability to impact a much wider audience than a traditional face to face conversation. This expanded conversation regarding health care providers might even empower some individuals to seek care where they otherwise might have gone without. As caregivers we all recognize the devastating consequences when care is postponed or avoided. These online conversations have tremendous power to engage individuals in their homes and communities.
Ultimately, I’m certain Mr. Kish’s words will prove wise as person-centered healthcare and the resulting effects of improving patient engagement are realized. Sharing data transparently is one step in the evolution of person-centered healthcare. Over the last few years many health care organizations have embraced the transparent sharing of patient feedback. Paul Sommer (Geisinger Health System) and I recently presented a webinar on this topic with many questions and comments from those attending. This webinar remains available through The Beryl Institute archives. In the end, we all benefit when health care collaboration, trust and engagement is improved and supported!
Brandon Parkhurst is the Medical Director of Patient Experience for Marshfield Clinic and splits his time between the practice of Family Medicine and leading patient experience improvement. Brandon was born and raised in rural north Missouri where his parents and grandparents consistently taught him that you do right by people because it’s the right thing to do.