Taking consumer-driven health care to a new level, some patients in Houston can now rate their doctor like they would a trendy new restaurant or used car.
Think stars - one to five.
Earlier this month Houston Methodist became one of a handful of hospitals in the country to post on its website the number of stars given by patients to 66 of its primary-care and orthopedic physicians. The more stars, the better the perceived performance.
"We live in a Yelp culture. Everyone rates everything. Medicine has just come along for the ride," says Dr. Joshua Septimus, an internist who is part of the new program. "I think the culture has changed. When I first got into medicine 12 years ago I don't think patients thought of their doctors as being five stars or four stars. They were just their doctors."
As times change so, too, does the reality of medicine.
The Houston Methodist pilot program is seen as yet another step in the larger shift away from the doctor-knows-best model of the past. A stated goal of the Affordable Care Act is more transparency, which means giving patients a stronger voice in their own care. That, in turn, means providers must now compete in the arena of consumer choice.
"I think this is a real opportunity for consumers," says Dr. Robert Phillips, executive vice president and chief medical officer at Houston Methodist. "A more engaged patient is a patient who is able to achieve better health."