Friday, February 28, 2014

Hospital rankings: I wasn't cynical enough.

Whenever I think I am too cynical about the business of health care, I learn something that makes me understand that I am not cynical enough.  You may recall my 2011 column about the silliness of the hospital rankings published in one of the national magazines. I said:

US News needs to stop relying on unsupported and unsupportable reputation, often influenced by anecdote, personal relationships and self-serving public appearances.

So, you can imagine my pleasure in learning of the latest rigorous advance in the methodology applied by the magazine, a partnership with the physician network, Doximity.  This will certainly make things more objective and precise, right?  Well, not quite.

Here's a general letter sent out by the Ophthalmologist-in-Chief of one of the nation's eye centers.  It demonstrates how the process can be influenced by hospitals in helping to ensure a self-selected samples of physicians who are then polled to offer their opinions for the annual survey.

And, by the way, how reliable is Doximity in providing unbiased measures of quality? It seems mainly to be focused on networking:

“With over 170,000 physician members, Doximity has become the CV source for physicians researching other physicians—their training, insurers accepted certifications, publications, and other bona fides,” said Jeff Tangney, CEO of Doximity. "We’re excited to work with U.S. News to help patients find the right physician, precisely and reliably.”

Bona fides.  Great.  Until we read the next line:

For doctors, the new collaboration offers an opportunity to accurately represent themselves to the online public. Physicians can control whether certain information is shared publicly.

I wasn't cynical enough.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately medicine is completing its transformation into just another American business that consumers (no longer patients are we) must be wary of, with its misleading advertising and lobbyist organizations such as this. It's heartbreaking to witness.

nonlocal MD

Anonymous said...

Our hospital sent about 5 very similar emails out, and even went to far as to set up a station in the lobby to help doctors sign up for doximity so that we could complete the survey.

There were no tables to register people for rapid cycle improvement events...