Saturday, August 3, 2013

Judging Physician Quality by Reputation Among Peers
A doctor’s greatest strength is his or her reputation. We spend our entire professional lives creating and protecting this precious asset.
Neil Baum, MD, author Marketing Your Clinical Practices; Ethically, Economically, 4th Edition
How does one judge quality of a physician’s work?   The current fashion is to measure outcomes, or how often a physician complies with guidelines,  or to somehow increase quality by paying-for-performance,  or to do physician satisfaction surveys , or to consult the growing number of physician ratings systems on the Internet, or to call the local medical society.  

But these approaches may miss a critical factor by which physicians are judged – their reputation
How does one judge a physician’s reputation?
It may be  through:

·         word of mouth from patients or colleagues.

·          the institution with which he or she is affiliated.

·          number of scientific papers he or she has published.

·         Angie’s List.

·         health care ratings on the Internet.

·         Online reputation, as defined in  Establishing, Managing, and Protecting Your Online Reputation ( Kevin Pho, MD and Susan Gay, Greenbranch Publishing, 2013).

·         Participating in social media sites with judgment by readers.

·         Managing patient expectations, as explained in  Managing Patient Expectations: The Arts of Finding and Keeping Loyal Patients (Susan Keane Baker, Jossey Bass, 1997).

·         Qualifying as one of Top Doctors in America,  as listed by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd , publishers of America’s Top  Doctors, America’s Top Doctors for Cancer, Doctors in New York City Metro Area, or Top Doctor articles in New York, New Jersey, Westchester, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston, Gulf Shore Love, Boca Life, Palm Springs Life and other magazines across the country.
Reputation-Based Quality
The Top Doctors approach is reputation-based. It uses extensive surveys of physician nationwide .   From these surveys,  peers  identify other doctors as the “best of the best”  A research team reviews   credentials , and they are listed in Top Doctor publications or in a newspaper ads.(in the interest of full-disclosure, I have been on the Medical Advisory Board of America’s Top Doctors for the last 10 years)
The August 3, 2013,  New York Times contains a full-page ad listing the top 16  doctors in the nation in neurological specialties. All are affiliated with major hospitals, and 12 of the 16 are neurosurgeons, with special expertise in brain or spine surgery or certain brain lesions,    Others are neurologists, neuro-oncology, or interventional neuroradiology.
Is reputation among peers the best way to identify top doctors?   Among physicians, this is considerd  a reliable approach, especially when combined with other quality criteria and extensive review of credentials.
Tweet:  Multiple approaches exist to identify top physicians , but one of the best is his her reputation among based on  broad surveys among peers.


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