US Surgeon Data Available To The Public
Over 16000 surgeons’ data have been analysed by Propublica.org and complication rates in the data are vastly varied. By releasing this data, the report aims to turn patients into informed healthcare customers and push clinicians to work on improving their outcomes and practice with performance-based medicine.
The idea behind this publication of surgeon outcomes is that when a surgeon betters their outcomes, then they are more likely to have their income increased in comparison to their peers. This will lead to greater satisfaction scores from their patients and consequently their quality of life improves as a surgeon.
By bringing healthcare consumers and clinicians closer together with this transparency of data, improvements can be made the system that could revolutionise the practice of Western medicine.
Of the most common elective procedures in Medicare data, 8 were selected and almost 17,000 surgeons were evaluated between 2009 and 2013. Using the Surgeon Scorecard patients could also add their own reviews, meaning that the database isn’t just built on the Propublica.org team’s evaluations. Surgeons can be found by their location, state, surgeon name, hospital, and clinical data, including complication rate, can be be viewed by the public.
This openness will allow patients to seek out which surgeons will offer the best value as their caretakers. This includes who will provide them with the best outcomes, give them the lowest cost, a good experience as a patient, and much more. The result of this change in the way that patients choose their caretakers will be an alteration to income patterns among surgeons, both generalists and specialists.
On this website, you can find information on over 50,000 surgeons in the US, including Medicare data and patient evaluations, and was published between 2009 and 2012. Using this website, patients can rank physicians, enter a ZIP code to find surgeons in an area, and choose from 14 choices of surgical procedures to view surgeons.
Not included in the data are information on trauma and high-risk patients, however according to CNN.com you can view hip or knee surgery, prostate removal surgery and gastric surgery amongst others. Patients that were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of surgery were considered a complication if their readmission was related to their operation.
Surgeons should take the time to look up their own name on the data to view their ranking in relation to their peers and to view their level of risk that is linked to their surgeries. According to the Center for the Study of Services and Consumers’ Checkbook, SurgeonRatings.org and Surgeon Scorecard allow patients to search the databases more easily as a result of the information being organised by Medicare fee-for-service ratings.
According to a CBSNews.com report, SurgeonRatings.org was created because of a 10 year campaign to get the goverment to release Medicare records to the public. The creation of an open-access website has allowed for the public to obtain data on post-surgical outcomes which will allow them to be more informed healthcare consumers.
How accurate is the data?
With only 14 choices of procedure included in the data, inaccuracies could occur in the rankings, and in the Propublica.org data only 8 choices are included. The negative PR that will come from bad rankings will need to be addressed. The solution to this would be to employ a management team that can manage user’s perception of the data.
Physician Quality Reporting (PQRS) and Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers (CAHPS) surveys were conducted by The Center for the Study of Services. Doctors and statistician consultants worked with SurgeonRatings.org team to analyse and review surgeons based upon several sets of criteria, including death rates and evaluations by other doctors.
ProPublica reporter, Marshall Allen, stated, “We thought we would find good and bad hospitals… What we actually found was a quite a bit of variation between surgeons within the same hospital”.
If rankings do seem unrealistic or negative without a cause, it is possible for surgeons to prove that the published data is wrong. It’s something that is worth doing because of the public access to this data and its effect on patient’s perception of their caretaker.
In areas where there are a large number of surgeons, such as New York City of Los Angeles, it will lead to patients literally shopping for surgeons, thus competition will be born between surgeons out of the publication of the data.
If a low ranking is accurate, there are options available to surgeons looking to improve their score. This involves identifying the cause of the complications and taking responsibility for their own learning and improving of their technique.
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