Patients want reviews and ratings for informed choice - Hindustan Times
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Patients want reviews and ratings for informed choice

ByHindustan Times
Nov 25, 2023 02:19 PM IST

This article is authored by Jagdish Chaturvedi, ENT consultant, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru.

In today's digital era, the internet has transformed the way we make decisions, from choosing the latest tech gadget to selecting a healthcare provider. Gone are the days when word of mouth was the primary source of information. Now, with just a few clicks, anyone can access a wealth of knowledge and connect with medical practitioners across the country without leaving the comfort of their home. However, amid this convenience lies the challenge of discerning a doctor's qualifications and experience based solely on online information. So, how do you know if a particular registered medical practitioner (RMP) is the right fit for your healthcare needs? This is where telemedicine-enabling platforms step in, bridging the gap between patients and the right health care professionals. I recently stumbled upon a Twitter poll conducted by an Indian doctor, and I found the results to be highly resonant with my own sentiments. The poll revealed that 55% of patients expressed a strong desire for access to reviews and ratings. This statistic highlights the growing importance of patient reviews and ratings in healthcare decision-making; and telemedicine platforms play a pivotal role in this. They not only provide authentic information about a doctor's expertise but also offer a treasure trove of reviews and ratings from fellow patients. These patient-written evaluations serve as valuable guides for others, helping them determine if a doctor aligns with their requirements. Another global study suggests that ratings and reviews rank as a significant factor in patient decisions. The role of reviews cannot be underestimated as the study also revealed that 72% of patients read online patient ratings and reviews when making decisions about health care facilities or physicians; it further states that 65% of respondents consider it important for health care providers to respond to reviews, as this feedback drives decision-making and prompts patients to become more selective; and 55% of millennials have made decisions about health care providers or locations based on online reviews.

Medical practitioners with patients(Reuters Photo)
Medical practitioners with patients(Reuters Photo)

What makes reviews truly valuable is that they are voluntarily shared by patients, creating a culture of accountability and transparency within the healthcare system. These reviews can also be a catalyst for medical professionals to enhance their services, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes. By fostering an environment of openness, all stakeholders in healthcare can collectively strive for better patient safety and quality of care. A BMC study has established that patient feedback can indeed impact medical performance, contributing to behavior change among doctors; it states that Patient feedback is likely to be more influential if it is specific, collected through credible methods and contains narrative information Another example is the NHS Friends and Family Test (FFT) in the United Kingdom. This service allows service providers to gain insights from patient reviews and implement meaningful changes. For instance, patient input led Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust to transform fasting practices before surgeries, improving patient comfort and outcomes. When analysing patients' narrative comments, this global study found that these comments encompassed various aspects of the healthcare encounter, encompassing facility and staff. These aspects included physicians' demeanor, staff friendliness, empathy, cost considerations, ease of scheduling, time spent with patients, and wait times. All the factors that matter to patients while making an informed choice.

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In conclusion, the digital age has ushered in a new era of health care decision-making. While the vast amount of information available online can be overwhelming, patient reviews and ratings have emerged as powerful tools to navigate this landscape. They empower patients to make informed choices and encourage health care providers to continually improve their services. As we move forward, the collaboration between technology and patient feedback promises to drive positive change, ultimately leading to a safer and more effective health care system for all.

This article is authored by Jagdish Chaturvedi, ENT consultant, Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru.

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