Consumer Reports Now Rates Massachusetts Doctors

For the first time, Consumer Reports is rating doctors practices the same way it rates appliances and cars — starting with Massachusetts physicians. 

Consumer Reports has teamed up with Massachusetts Health Quality Partnership (MHQP) — an independent organization that collects data on the quality of Massachusetts doctors — to rate what they call “the patient experience” across 500 practices. Melinda Karp of MHQP says the data was collected with scientific rigor and goes beyond patient satisfaction surveys.

“They told us things like whether their doctors listened to their needs and concerns, whether their docs spent enough time with them, whether they as patients understand how to take care of their problems after they leave the doctor’s office. So really important dimensions of communication between doctors and patients.”

The ratings will also look at how quickly patients can get office appointments or lab tests, among other measures — all of which MHQP already posts on its website. Dr. Tara Lagu is a research scientist at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield who studies online doctor reviews. She thinks the new partnership will make existing data much easier for consumers to find and digest. But she does anticipate some physician concerns, especially since Consumer Reports is rating them on the patient experience, not medical outcomes.

“There’s a lot of pushback in the physician community about using patient satisfaction data and patient experience data because i think physicians feel like sometimes what we do is not always fun for patients, and so they’re not going to always be satisfied with their care.”

The Massachusetts Medical Society, which represents doctors, says it supports the new ratings system because it’s based on large sample sizes and won’t rely on anecdotal complaints. The Consumer Reports health issue — published just for Massachusetts readers —  is on news-stands now, and online at: http://www.mhqp.org/default.asp?nav=010000