AOK plus: school grades for doctors

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AOK plus: School grades for doctors: From January 2011, patients can rate their doctors.

(08.09.2010) The general local health insurance company AOK plus starts a new evaluation portal for specialists and general practitioners. On this portal, insured persons of the AOK can rate the last doctor's visit. In doing so, the AOK wants to make it easier for the insured to choose a general practitioner or specialist. AOK members can rate school grades for the waiting time, treatment by the doctor, appointments, condition of the doctor's office and the work of the medical assistant. The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians and the Independent Patient Advisory Service welcome the evaluation campaign, but both associations point out that the evaluations are carried out according to subjective standards by the patients.

The AOK plus, which was formed from the AOK health insurers Thuringia and Saxony, wants to offer a new doctor rating portal on the Internet. From January 2011, patients can assess their last visit to a general practitioner or the consultation of a specialist. Insured persons can assign so-called school grades in the assessment. Grades are awarded based on a questionnaire. In this way, AOK members can evaluate the practice equipment, waiting times, appointments, treatment quality of the doctor and the competence of the medical assistant. The health insurance company wants to use it to give patients a better overview and to make it easier to choose a doctor in the future. Other insured persons can compare the evaluations already made and thus have better guidance.

At the beginning of the year, other AOK health insurance companies started a similar pilot project. There are similar doctor rating portals for people insured with AOK in Hamburg, Berlin and Thuringia. A so-called hospital navigator should also help you find the right clinic. But the response was not as the AOK had hoped. The acceptance of the offer fell far short of expectations. Nevertheless, the AOK plans to expand the online evaluation campaign for doctors nationwide. When such a nationwide doctor rating portal starts is still unknown. At the beginning of the year, it was announced that such a project would already start in the autumn of this year. Apparently, the weak response from patients is preventing an expansion of the range. However, only insured members of the AOK can take advantage of the evaluation offer. It is not yet known whether other health insurance companies are planning such an offer.

In the meantime, the Independent Patient Advice Service and the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians of Saxony welcomed the online evaluation of doctors and also supported this campaign. In addition to the positive aspects, negative ones are also seen. It is therefore not out of the question that insured persons carry out the assessments of the doctors according to purely subjective standards. Ulrike Dzengel of the independent patient counseling said: "There can be no reliable statements here". Because such evaluations are very subjective and therefore unfortunately too imprecise. Only based on their own experience did each evaluation also have a subjective point of view, as it went on to say. In addition, many patients, especially in the country, would not have a large selection of doctors. However, such a portal could help to make the work of doctors more transparent.

The Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians in Leipzig also welcomed such a portal. Here, however, one sees the danger that especially dissatisfied patients tend to make an assessment. A school grading system is also not particularly suitable. The chairman of the board of the Saxonian Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Klaus Heckemann, said that dissatisfied patients in particular took advantage of such an offer. That could lead to a consumed assessment of doctors. Another problem could also arise, for example doctors with the best ratings could experience a mass rush that is hardly manageable in everyday life.

According to the AOK Plus, a total of two million AOK plus insured persons in Saxony are encouraged to participate. It is hoped that a large number of patients will also participate. There are numerous well-known rating portals on the Internet where, for example, vacation trips can be rated. These portals are very popular and have in some cases improved the service of individual providers. It could be similar with a doctor rating portal. Giving school grades could effectively improve the work of doctors. Because even bad marks can be improved by good ratings. Doctors could thus be encouraged to significantly improve their work. According to the AOK, it should not go that far. One contradicts the view that such an evaluation portal is about a "medical TÜV". It is only intended to make it easier for patients to find a doctor. But the points mentioned should still play a role.

The insured can rate individual criteria in the rating portal. School grades are awarded. The following are to be assessed how long did it take to get an appointment, what was the equipment and general condition of the practice, how much time did he take the doctor for the patient and how was the patient consultation overall. In addition, the work and competence of the practice employees should also be assessable. And finally, the waiting time should also be gradable. The insured have the option of awarding grades between one (top grade) and six (completely inadequate).

It remains to be seen how such a rating portal will be accepted by the insured and how doctors will react to it. We will therefore continue to report. (sb)

Also read:
AOK plans grades for doctors

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