Sanford Health adds ratings, reviews to doctor profiles

New provider rating system brings Yelp-style reviews to patients

A photo of happy doctor holding digital tablet while looking at patient. Female medical professional is communicating with man. They are sitting on chairs in clinic.

Think about the last time that you wanted to try a new restaurant or make a purchase online. Did you ask friends for a recommendation? Did you take a chance on whatever looked good? Chances are, you looked at the reviews before you made a decision.

According to the Pew Research Center, 82 percent of online shoppers look at the ratings and reviews before purchasing a new product. Reviews help people to feel more confident the product fulfills all of their needs.

Five-star provider rating system

In that respect, Sanford Health is becoming more like HealthGrades, Yelp and other patient review websites.

Patients are now able to review providers and rate them out of five stars with the new provider rating system. Star ratings and reviews appear on the “Find a Doctor” portion of sanfordhealth.org.

Because of this, prospective patients are better able to choose a provider who fits their needs. Dr. Jeremy Cauwels, senior vice president of quality, was key to implementing the new provider rating system.

Transparency in health care

“The ratings give patients a level of transparency that they have never had before,” Cauwels said. “This system provides one more avenue for potential patients to learn about us before they meet us.”

The ratings are calculated based on questions from surveys sent out randomly to thousands of patients every year. An independent company conducts these surveys. Sanford publishes the actual reviews, from actual patients. However, Sanford does not post comments that are libelous, profane, or those that risk the privacy of patients.

The surveys ask a variety of questions, such as how well the doctor communicated with the patient, how well the provider listened to the patient’s concerns, and other aspects that affect patient experience.

Dr. Wooyang Kim, professor of marketing at Minnesota State University Moorhead, specializes in health care consumption and consumer behavior.

“Reviews as an information source play a critical role to reduce consumers’ uncertainty of their decision,” Dr. Kim said.

Essentially, potential patients are constantly gathering information to make the best health care decision for them. Provider reviews help get the needed information to patients and reduces any uncertainty that they may have.

Improved patient experience

Dr. Kim also noted that health care consumption is rapidly changing in a variety of different ways.

“One of the most notable changes is that patients gather the needed information online, which allows the convenience of information access to fill out their needs and wants,” said Dr. Kim.

When asked about his own opinion of the new system, Kim said, “I believe it is an excellent idea to gain a managerial direction by understanding the performance of medical care organizations as well as doctors affiliated in the organization. The rating system is not an optional choice for health care service organizations anymore. Instead, it is a necessary function to adopt the current market environment.”

In addition, Dr. Kim recognized the importance of reviews in relation to improving Sanford Health’s overall performance. Consumer reviews indicate how patients feel about the services they receive, and help the organization to improve as a whole.

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