Viewpoint: Patients lack reliable platform to assess provider quality

Patients are often left with no platform to rate their healthcare service, besides large anonymous websites and social media, which highlights the need for a patient platform with reliable information for patients and healthcare professionals, according to an August 2 editorial written by the Des Moines Register's editorial board.

The Register's editorial board contains the following members:

  • Carol Hunter, executive editor
  • Kathie Obradovich, opinion editor
  • Andie Dominick, editorial writer
  • Richard Doak, editorial board member
  • Rox Laird, editorial board member

Here are four things to know:

1. The editorial board cites several examples of legal repercussions from patients voicing their concerns about the quality of care they recived and physicians taking legal action. For example, Kalkaska (Mich.) Memorial Health Center in July sued an elderly patient's daughters and granddaughter who posted a picture of them picketing in front of the hospital that they say mistreated their deceased loved one.

2. Physicians should be able to respond to patient criticism, but patients should not be shamed for sharing honest opinions and information about their healthcare experiences, the editorial board argues. "Online reviews written by patients may provide the only information others can get about a physician's outcomes, bedside manner or professionalism," they write.

3. The editorial board argues there is no reliable or accredited public reporting system for patients to report quality of care.

4. The authors propose hospital systems use third parties to conduct surveys for patients and physicians to then properly report results to the public. Lawmakers could then file complaints with the medical board, which would also be open to the public.

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