Wrong paradigm?

Internet-based provider ranking systems don’t seem to work very well.  At least that’s the conclusion from a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study that shows fewer patients are using such systems.  Two very different bloggers arrive at similar conclusions as to why this “Consumer Reports model” of picking a physician or hospital doesn’t appear to work.

Niko Karvounis at Health Beat:

How can a third party organization rate how respectful or personable a doctor will be toward you? Sure, there’s some level of abstraction that could be ranked, and even supplemented with testimonials from patients. But ultimately the relationship that you’ll have with your doctor isn’t truly knowable by a third party-let alone a health care ranking company that’s never met you and has no concept of your health care needs, your fears, or your disposition.

Ultimately, patients’ health care priorities aren’t entirely rational-and so relationships, and not rankings, are important. Interaction is paramount.

David E. Williams at the Health Business Blog:

The scores for each hospital represent an average across physicians and cases. Who’s really able to say what the quality will be for a given patient with a given doctor?

Considering the state of the art, no wonder people rely on personal experience, relationships, and anecdotes when choosing a hospital?

Apparently, patients have determined that the signal-to-noise-ratio (so to speak) of these online ratings services is so low that they are of little utility.

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