Will Medical Group Practice Marketing Be Simplified to One, Two, or Three Consumer Reports Stars?

new york times logo “The Medical groups that perform heart bypass surgery are now being rated alongside cars and toaster ovens in Consumer Reports,” quipped the New York Times article. Personally, a toaster oven seems preferable to cardiothoracic surgery, but anyone who handles group practice marketing will want to watch this idea unfold. It’s seems to be inspiring lively discussion in professional and public circles.

The New England Journal of Medicine published its comments, observing that this effort to make comparative data public was “a watershed event in health care accountability.” The Consumer Reports ratings are available to online or print subscribers along with a wide range of other consumer health ratings and medical information. The Times reports that the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, which collaborated with Consumer Reports, will be posting the ratings (for free) on the society’s website in the near future.

Unlike toaster oven testing done in the Consumer Reports lab, the publication uses data from a registry developed by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS) in 1989. More than 90 percent of the approximately 1100 U.S. cardiac surgery programs participate in the registry, according to the Journal, and Consumer Reports is citing results of coronary-artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedures at 221 U.S. cardiac surgery programs.

The magazine ratings include 221 surgical groups (groups are rated, not individual doctors), from 42 states. The groups receive one, two, or three stars for below average, average, or above average.

The STS acknowledges the ongoing debate, and that the decision to provide data to the general public “was not an entirely easy sell to the profession.” They say they’ll be monitoring the discussion.

Check the NYT article or the NEJM item and let us know your thoughts on this.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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