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Patients size up physicians


Better diagnosis, better compliance and less waste are goals of patient evaluation surveys

A pilot program has shown the feasibility of conducting scientifically valid national surveys of patients regarding their doctors and providing the reports publicly.

Consumers' Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services (CSS), a nonprofit consumer research organization, surveyed patients in Kansas City, Denver, and Memphis.

Participating plans also agreed to license the survey results for a fee to use as they see fit. (Non-participating plans will not be granted use of the survey results.) According to the company, the survey model costs about $100 to $120 per doctor.

Aetna's Chief Medical Officer Lonny Reisman, MD, believes the approach improves the health plan's ability to gather sufficient patient feedback on each doctor to provide scientifically valid and meaningful information.

"The more people weighing in, the more credible and useful the information will be," Dr. Reisman says. "Sharing reliable patient input with doctors and consumers adds a valuable dimension to existing tools that engage health plan members by helping them evaluate quality as well as cost."

Physicians in the pilot metro areas have been cooperative in survey efforts, says Krughoff.

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