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Crowdsourcing Health Care: Is the Customer Always Right?

Healio Rheumatology reports on the reliability of crowdsourced information in health care as consumers turn to other consumers when making surgical decisions. 

Alexander S. McLawhorn, MD, MBA, hip and knee surgeon at HSS, published a study in Orthopedics that compared overall patient satisfaction ratings for orthopedic surgeons from provider-based surveys with those found online. His team found that provider-initiated surveys had a higher number of patient ratings and higher satisfaction rates than those found online (such as on Healthgrades, Vitals, etc.).

"Surveys tend to capture the processes and outcomes of the entire care team and care environment, and they can be contingent on patient variables, such as comorbidities and patient behavior," Dr. McLawhorn says. "However, these outcomes are often not adequately risk-adjusted when they are reported."

Bradford S. Waddell, MD, hip and knee surgeon at HSS, who was also involved in the study, explains that government ratings provide a more comprehensive data set than crowdsourced ones. 

"Health care provider ratings are an anonymous survey given to all patients after care with the physician and are required by the government," Dr. Waddell says. "This automatically includes a larger and more robust representation of the physician's patients. This will give a more accurate representation of the care provided by the physician."

"As with everything, there is the possibility of bias in the health care provider reporting, and this should be properly guarded against by the care system to provide the most accurate results," he adds.

Dr. McLawhorn notes that further studies are needed to understand the parameters around crowdsourced care. "Patient-reported outcomes measures, or PROMs, like the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score are other potential candidate measures of quality, but we do not yet know how best to analyze these outcome scores so that they can be interpreted reliably as quality measures," he says. "Certainly, to use them as quality measures at this time would be premature and ahead of the science as well as our understanding of the links between PROMs and quality of care."

Read the full article at Healio.com/Rheumatology.