Physician Ratings / Transparency

Ben Boulden

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UAMS is committed to transparency when it comes to giving patients the information they need to select the physician who is right for them.

To that end, UAMS last year became the first medical center in Arkansas and among the first in the nation to implement a star rating system for UAMS physicians that displays patient ratings and comments about its physicians on its website.

The ratings by patients are shown using a star rating system from one to five stars, with five being the best. About 190 physicians are listed at doctors.uamshealth.com, with the ratings displayed on each physician’s profile webpage. The ratings and comments are drawn from patient surveys, and as more surveys are received, the number of rated physicians will increase.

UAMS is focused on providing an exceptional experience in every aspect of care.

“UAMS, its physicians and our Medical Center have created this rating system to be more transparent, to enhance relationships with patients, to provide better care and give patients information they can use in making decisions about their health care,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. “The university has been doing patient surveys for years, but we now are making this information accessible to the public.”

To have a rating posted, a physician must have a minimum of 30 completed surveys. The results are based entirely from patients who have actually been treated by the physician.

Although physician ratings have been available online from other websites unaffiliated with a health care provider, they sometimes have comments from only one or two people and those people aren’t even verified as patients.

“We are interested in making sure we have a more balanced, fair and representative evaluation system before it is released to the public,” said Christopher Westfall, M.D., professor and chairman of the UAMS Department of Ophthalmology, who helped lead the effort to create the new ratings system. “That is why, before we publish patient satisfaction ratings, we require that there be at least 30.”

Patients are asked to complete the survey and provide comments regarding specific aspects of their care experience. UAMS uses this feedback to improve and enhance the care it offers.

As part of its commitment to transparency, UAMS will post all relevant feedback — both positive and negative. However, it will not post comments that are libelous, profane, or those that risk the privacy of patients. Every provider rating is published regardless of the nature of the comment. 

“UAMS is focused on providing an exceptional experience in every aspect of care,” said Roxane Townsend, M.D., UAMS Medical Center CEO. “To ensure we are holding ourselves to the highest standards, we are partnered with National Research Corporation (NRC) — a leading independent patient satisfaction company. We measure all aspects of patient satisfaction, and all ratings are submitted by verified actual patients.”

The surveys ask patients to evaluate how well their physician communicated, listened, and showed courtesy and respect toward them. Results are used to evaluate patients’ overall perception of care and to identify areas for improvement. Patient names are not displayed through the online ratings and commentary reviews. Every effort is made to remove personally identifiable information prior to display.

“The key driver in this initiative is what is best for our patients and their families,” Westfall said. “Transparency and improved patient satisfaction are our goals. We want the public, particularly those going online to find a doctor, to know how other patients view their experience with our physicians. Transparency regarding performance also will motivate all of us at UAMS to become better at what we do.”

“When one of our physicians received a less than glowing comment,” Westfall said. “He admirably responded, ‘I am going to learn from this and learn how to become better.’ That is the approach we hope to see.

“We believe we have superb physicians and we want the world to know. We believe this so strongly that we are willing to stake our reputation on it.”