Choosing the right physician is one of the most important healthcare decisions a person makes. Selecting the wrong physician can result in potentially harmful or fatal outcomes for the patient, and unnecessarily high healthcare costs. By way of example, a high quality physician has a 30–40% lower mortality rate than an average quality physician. And high quality physicians are 10–30% less expensive on average.
If selecting your physician is so important, what’s the best way to make the decision?
As a proposed answer, numerous “Doctor Finder” tools have sprung up over the last several years. You’ve seen them—visit a website (either hosted by a carrier like Anthem or Cigna or a 3rd party like ZocDoc or Vitals), enter some basic demographic and health information and get presented with a long list of physicians who meet your criteria.
With over 80% of American internet users now searching online for health information and 20% consulting online rankings of doctors, it’s important to ask the question—are Doctor Finder tools helping or hurting your employees?[2-3]
Some eye-opening figures about Doctor Finder tools:
● tools based on patient satisfaction scores (like Vitals, Healthgrades and Yelp) have zero correlation to physician quality or improved health outcomes. In fact, physicians with the highest patient satisfaction scores have higher mortality rates than their peers.
● tools based on physician peer referral don’t factor in data on actual clinical performance (and average clinical performers have 20-25% higher complication rates than highest performing physicians).
● for certain conditions, patients searching online will often look for the wrong type of physician. For example, back pain can be treated by many different physician types—pain specialists, physical therapists, chiropractors, orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons or PCPs. Without clinical guidance, patients with back pain often seek orthopedic surgeons first (who are more likely to suggest aggressive, surgical treatment), instead of their PCP.
At Grand Rounds, we believe that traditional Doctor Finder tools miss the mark entirely. Not only do these tools fail to match a patient with the most qualified physician (right specialty, right expertise with condition, demonstrated high quality of care), but they miss the other half of the equation too — providing patients with the personalized and comprehensive clinical guidance they need to get the most out of their physician visits, and any subsequent treatments. And with only 12% of Americans having adequate health literacy, this preparation is critically needed.
You and your employees deserve (and need) better.
• to know which physicians are the highest quality, have the appropriate experience, and can deliver the best outcome.
• to see physicians that have all your information in hand (e.g. medical records) to avoid unnecessary visits and retesting.
• personalized education on your condition and options for treatment.
• active follow-up from a trustworthy clinical resource to ensure you’re on the right path.
Step 1: Getting the patient to the right physician is the first critical step. Grand Rounds’ physician matching process starts with clinical data and a proprietary quality algorithm. We’ve amassed over 7 billion data points on more than 96% of actively practicing physicians in the U.S. With this data, our data science team identifies variations in care quality and outcomes between physicians—specialty by specialty. For example, looking at adult reconstructive surgeons, physicians in the top 10% average 22% fewer hospital readmissions, 36% lower joint infections or device problems and 37% lower blood clots than the average adult reconstructive surgeon.
Step 2: Conducting a data-driven analysis on physician quality is a huge improvement from traditional doctor finder tools. But it shouldn’t stop there. The data-driven search needs to go hand-in-hand with a clinical understanding of which physician type is most suitable (e.g. pain specialist or orthopedic surgeon or PCP for back pain). As mentioned previously, patient health literacy is frighteningly low and patients often do not know which type of physician to see for a particular ailment. For this reason, a Staff Physician is assigned to every case for every patient. This licensed physician spends time reviewing the patient’s medical records and their questions, and determining the physician most qualified and appropriate to service each patient. The assessment takes in to account the patient’s severity of disease, degree of surgical or medical skill needed to achieve best outcome, and patient preferences (e.g. language, gender, proximity to home or work, etc).
Step 3: The next step is preparation of both the patient and the physician to optimize the interaction. Grand Rounds Staff Physicians provide each patient with a list of relevant clinical questions to ask their new physician during the visit. We also prepare the physician for the visit with a care summary and full set of medical records for the patient so that they can focus on helping patient determine the best next step (instead of rehashing care or re-administering tests that have already happened).
Step 4: We actively follow up with patient after the visit to ensure all questions are answered and that they understand what to do next. As a result of our process, patients increase their health literacy two-fold, from 45% self-reporting that they understand their condition ‘very well’ before Grand Rounds to 90% after.
With a more comprehensive and more personalized service for finding doctors and augmenting health literacy, not only do your employees achieve better health, but your business sees financial upside as well. Each office visit results in $1,800 savings on average.
Better healthcare leads to better outcomes. Period.
 Grand Rounds data on file.
 Health Online 2013, Pew Research Center. 15 Jan 2013. Sourced from: http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/01/15/health-online-2013/.
 Peer-to-Peer Health Care, Pew Research Center. 15 Jan 2013. Sourced from: http://www.pewinternet.org/2013/01/15/peer-to-peer-health-care/.
 Fenton JJ et al. The Cost of Satisfaction: A National Study of Patient Satisfaction, Health Care Utilization, Expenditures, and Mortality. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(5):405-411. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.1662.
 America’s Health Literacy: Why We Need Accessible Health Information. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Sourced from: http://health.gov/communication/literacy/issuebrief/.