How Data Can Help You Choose A Better Doctor

Who knew choosing a surgeon based on parking spaces wasn’t the best idea?

In the digital age we often rely on peer reviews for restaurants and other businesses. There are plenty of doctors’ offices that also end up with peer ratings, but the ratings are based on things like parking spaces, number of chairs in the waiting room, and how long the wait is. Just think about it- when was the last time you were sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room for more than 5 minutes only to hear those around you start to complain about how long they had been there? Those are the people who leave ratings for their doctors online and they are usually bad ones. Subjective patient reviews are not the best indication of health outcomes. You can be very happy with your doctor one minute and dead the next minute.


Fortunately there’s a better way. Insurance companies have been keeping track of healthcare procedures and outcomes for decades, and now there’s a way to look at that data to determine success rates by procedure for individual physicians. If you need life altering surgery, wouldn’t you much rather choose a doctor who is good at that procedure rather than one who has a lot of parking spaces and a short wait time?


Physician scores based on empirical data include the following factors in the equation:

  • Severe complications
  • Hospital readmissions
  • ER Visits
  • Mortality


As you can imagine, basing scores on these factors is a surgeon-approved method because it is based on science and math. The data are adjusted for risk, which means complications that are outside of a physician’s control are not figured into the score.


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So how does this affect a physician or a hospital’s business? Seeing good scores can bolster patient trust, and having good scores can bring in more business. Bad scores can alert doctors and hospitals to problems they may not have known they had. Since scores are based on individual procedures it can be determined where exactly a particular physician’s strengths lie.


As a patient you should always start by asking if you need the procedure, what the benefits are, and whether those benefits outweigh the risks. Patients should always ask for alternatives as well as how to prepare for recovery. Once you have these answers you have to work to build trust with your physician, starting with choosing one with generally positive outcomes for whatever procedure you need. For patients, these scores can help save on healthcare costs by avoiding costly complications. Patient empowerment is at the top of most hospitals’ priority lists, and giving them empirical data to back up their medical needs is a great place to start.


The data have been there for decades waiting to be analyzed, and now there is a way to do a meaningful analysis. What’s more, this type of analysis is beneficial for doctors, hospitals, and patients, and it takes subjectivity out of the equation completely. Learn more about empirical doctor scoring from this infographic. You might be surprised how beneficial it can really be!