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New report shows patient priorities in caregiver reviews

The MGMA and Healthgrades report also shows gender bias, with male doctors receiving higher average reviews than female providers.

A new report shows how patients grade their care providers based on skill set, communication and wait times, while also revealing gender bias as a factor in their reviews.

Most patients mention their doctor's skill and care quality in their reviews, according to the 2020 Patient Sentiment Report, published and released by Healthgrades and the Medical Group Management Association. They also tend to raise concerns about factors such as wait time, visit time and office staff three times more in negative reviews than in positive reviews.

Patients tend to review male and female providers differently, the report showed, mentioning a doctor's skill more often when the doctor was a male. They also tend to have different priorities in their reviews based on their gender. Male reviewers more often mentioned skill and care quality of their provider, while female reviewers more often mentioned bedside manner, communication and wait time.

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The report looked at 8.4 million provider reviews, as well as 2.4 million written comments. Healthgrades and MGMA say the report gives new insights into how patients experience healthcare and the factors that influence their perception of care quality.

Skill and care quality were mentioned by 75% of respondents, which the report said often translates to whether they had improvement in symptoms or underwent a procedure with a successful outcome. One patient review cited in the report credited their doctor with their recovery from a surgery in which they were "playing golf and back to normal" six weeks after the procedure.

WHY IT MATTERS

Healthgrades says its survey can help physicians and healthcare systems better understand how to elevate their care so patients provide better reviews. The report encourages providers to look at local data to learn more about their patients, including data on which states in which consumers tended to give the highest reviews. New Jersey and Idaho doctors are among the most highly-rated in the country, they report, while Maine and West Virginia received lower ratings across many factors.

Reviews of doctors in southern states tend to have higher average ratings than providers in other states, according to the report. North Carolina, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana and Georgia were among the top 14 states for ratings, those states having average doctor ratings of 4.3 or higher.

Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and midwestern and western states like North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming were among the states with the lowest average ratings, which were ratings that were 4.0 or lower.

The report also says patients can use more responsibility in giving objective reviews and avoiding bias when it comes to gender. They said patients gave male providers an average 4.3 star rating, while female providers got an average 4.1 star rating. When it came to wait times, both male and female doctors had a negative average sentiment score, but female doctors had a score that was .13 points lower than male doctors.

THE LARGER TREND

As the MGMA/Healthgrades report looks to help providers better accommodate patients, some recent surveys show patient loyalty to care providers is on the decline.

A survey from AccessOne released last year showed three in four people out of 1,000 consumers surveyed were willing to shop around for care based on price, and that 38% were already doing so. Price was not a factor tracked in the MGMA/Healthgrades report, but the report cites patient retention as a goal for care providers that utilize its findings to improve its services.

FOR THE RECORD

"A healthier world is achievable when we in healthcare understand how to build healthier relationships among physicians, patients and staff," said Halee Fischer-Wright, president and CEO of MGMA. "This data demystifies the factors that will elevate patient experience: High-quality care, operational excellence and meaningful communication together build the foundation for the way we want healthcare to work."

Max Sullivan is a freelance writer and reporter who, in addition to writing about healthcare, has covered business stories, municipal government, education and crime. Twitter: @maxsullivanlive maxesullivan@gmail.com