Hospitals can use patient reviews to improve healthcare

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Patient reviews can provide needed feedback that allows providers to improve healthcare, writes University of Utah Health Care CEO Vivian Lee.

Health systems or hospitals that actively collect patient reviews and publish them may reap a number of rewards from the practice.

Vivian Lee, M.D., CEO of University of Utah Health Care, wrote in a column for STAT that embracing patient reviews has increased trust between the system and patients, and also provides new ideas for ways to improve and innovate care.

“The bold entrance of online consumer companies like and others into the healthcare sphere has made it clear that public reviews of physicians’ performance are unavoidable and inevitable,” she writes. “Rather than lament this trend, physicians and healthcare systems should welcome the opinions of our patients, learn from them, and share them with the public.”

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By collecting and reviewing patient feedback in-house and publishing it on the system’s website, University of Utah Health Care ensures that information comes directly from patients and reliably reflects their experience. The system sends out the surveys and reviews them before publishing the responses. The reviews are usually published just as the patients wrote them, unless the responses contain compromising information, Lee writes.

Providers can also apply patient responses to solve simple issues or resolve concerns. For instance, Utah Health Care received a number of reviews in which patients requested more transparency about healthcare costs. So, in response the system launched an online pricing tool that makes cost estimates more readily available.

Although more providers embrace and post patient reviews, new research finds that commercial physician-rating websites don't provide a true picture of a doctor’s patient care. But providers can take advantage of individual experiences as a window into ways to improve care delivery and patient satisfaction.