Should physician performance data be transparent?

There is a push in many hospitals and health systems to make physician performance data more transparent to better align and motivate physicians. While physicians tend to be a competitive bunch, ranking employees can backfire if not considered carefully, according to a recent article in The New York Times.

According to the report, employers — or in this case, hospitals — should share independent, rather than comparative, performance data, especially in team-based environments.

A three-year study of 1,500 furniture sales representatives, conducted by University of Pennsylvania Professor Iwan Barnakay, PhD, revealed workers who did not know how they ranked improved more than those who were provided with a competitive ranking. The study shows most people assume they are above average, so when they are shown they rank as average or below average, it is demoralizing and can negatively affect performance, Dr. Barnakay told The New York Times.

The article points to another study that examined the effects of a lean management program on truck drivers. Some drivers were shown individual performance and others were shown how they ranked comparatively, though they were told the data would not be used to evaluate individual performance.

According to the report, drivers who had been part of the lean management program, which was meant to promote a team-based environment, resented the comparative data and felt the company was trying to make employees compete against one another. However, those who had not completed lean management training were motivated to improve their performance.

The report suggests sharing performance data individually in team-based environments and publically in more self-directed environments.


More articles on integration and physician issues:

8 stories about end-of-life care for physicians
3 physicians from America's tiniest towns talk patient relationships, rural practice and the state of healthcare
15 key findings on physician practice arrangements

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