Doctors Rate Doctors
When doctors rate their peers, patients win. DoctorRated was created to give patients and the medical community a powerful tool to rate and rank physicians and hospitals. Our goal is to educate and inform patients about their choices in healthcare. Prior to DoctorRated, patients and doctors relied on "word of mouth” referrals as there was no website that provided peer ratings of doctors and hospitals. We feel that this is the most unbiased form of healthcare ratings system.
Doctors know each other's professional strengths and weaknesses in a similar way that patients know their doctor's personal strengths and weaknesses. There are many options and opinions about which qualities make the best doctors, and they range from professional characteristics to personal qualities to logistical issues. Our ratings allow doctors and patients to rate the characteristics that we feel you should look for in your doctor.
Knowledge encompasses a doctor's understanding of medicine and includes his/her overall knowledge base, ability to process information, ability to consolidate facts and symptoms into a differential diagnosis, and his/her mastery of a particular specialty. Knowledge should include having a good understanding of medical facts from textbooks, being up-to-date on current literature and journal articles, and having a desire to become more informed about current issues.
A doctor's education is the basis for all future medical development. A doctor's choice of medical school is not as important as the education that he/she receives at the medical school. This characteristic should take into account the quality of medical school, education received, and in certain situations type of degree received (MD vs DO, MDPhD vs MD alone, etc.).
In order to compare physicians, DoctorRated strives to rate all doctors and then separate them into similar specialties. When a doctor finishes medical school, the next step is a specialty training program or residency program. The basic choices for residency include: Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Emergency Medicine, General Surgery, and many surgical subspecialties like Orthopedics, Otolaryngology, Neurosurgery, etc.
A doctor's choice of residency program can be critical to his/her professional development as this is the doctor's apprenticeship. In general, the more prestigious the residency, the better the doctor is prepared to take care of patients. However, certain doctors can leave a less prestigious residency program with a superior training.
When a doctor finishes a residency program in a primary specialty and then chooses to subspecialize, he/she does an advanced fellowship in a subsection of the primary specialty. For instance, a General Surgery resident might choose to subspecialize in Cardiovascular Surgery or an Internal Medicine resident might choose to subspecialize in Gastroenterology. Pediatrics and Internal Medicine have a large number of parallel subspecialties (the parallel is that pediatric doctors take care of kids and IM doctors take care of adults) whereas Psychiatry and Emergency Medicine have relatively few.
Subspecialty fellowships are vital to physicians as they teach a young doctor the procedural and thinking skills necessary to care for very complex patients. Once again, in general, the more prestigious the fellowship program the more prepared the doctor is to take care of patients.
"Super” Subspecialty Training
When a doctor finishes a subspecialty fellowship and decides to subspecialize even further, he/she can do an advanced training fellowship in a section of their subspecialty field. Although an unofficial title, "Super” Subspecialty fellowships are common and are usually procedural-based skills. For example, an Internal Medicine doctor can subspecialize in Cardiology then do a super fellowship in Electrophysiology so that he/she can place pacemakers and defibrillators and do cardiac rhythm ablations.
Experience is a difficult term to quantitate. It often is inaccurately equilibrated solely to the number of years in practice. However, we think that experience should take into account a doctor's overall scope of practice including number of years worked, number of patients treated, and breadth of patient encounters including variety of diagnoses and procedures (if applicable).
Quality of Care
Quality of care is becoming synonymous with a doctor's ability to take excellent care of a patient in an efficient and cost-effective manner. It encompasses patient outcomes, cost, length of stay (if hospitalized), and other measures.
Doctors and their staffs have a better insight into their peers' availability to see new and urgent patients in a timely manner than anyone else. Often a doctor's availability in clinic can prevent Emergency Room visits and can allow reassurance of the patient in anxious times.
Although not all doctors take care of patients in a hospital, the ones who do can vary in their availability to see new patients and make followup visits. The availability of a doctor in the hospital can be vital to allow a quick recovery and thoughtful reassurance for the patient and family.
Doctors are not always available due to nights, weekends, vacations, illnesses, continuing medical education, or a variety of other reasons. Although routine care can be performed by almost any doctor, middle-of-the-night phone calls and life-saving procedures or surgeries make the coverage by a physician partner very important. Choosing a doctor with partners who are considered to be excellent or at least not inferior allows the patient to be protected and well cared for when the preferred doctor is not available.
A doctor's personality in the doctor's lounge or on the phone with another doctor can be very different than the personality that a patient experiences. We feel that it is important to have a doctor rate another doctor's personality as it may vary from a patient's perpective and might give more insight and information to the patient and healthcare community.
Communication between Doctors
An often-underrated characteristic when thinking about what makes a good doctor involves a physician's ability to communicate with primary care providers and referring doctors. Miscommunication can come in the form of absent or late office notes, poor quality office or hospital notes, lack of appropriate phone calls to update patient care, and inadequate communication of vital patient events like procedures/surgeries/hospital discharges. Frustration and divergence of treatment plans occur when two doctors do not communicate well together.
Although a doctor rating another doctor's office location is not as important as a patient's opinion of the same, we feel that this logistical issue can be important particularly to rural or regional doctors who refer to doctors in different cities. As stated in other articles on this site, convenience should never be a major determinant of which doctor you choose but can sway you when two doctors are considered equivalent.
An office staff can make or break a doctor's reputation. A nurse's timely returned phone call or a receptionist's smile can make patients feel cared for and welcome. As stated above, a referring doctor and his/her staff will never probably be more familiar with another doctor's staff than patients are. We still feel that doctors should rate other doctors to give patients and the healthcare community more data.