Two new websites launched recently that enable patients to evaluate and compare surgeons based on information that was previously unavailable on complications rates and patient outcomes.
The first site, www.surgeonratings.org, released by the nonprofit Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services, only lists surgeons that have had better-than-average outcomes based on an analysis of more than four million surgeries conducted by 50,000 surgeons on hospital inpatients. The ratings exclude habitually poor performers, and track mortality rates within 90 days of surgery or readmission to the hospital within 90 days. At the moment, the site only provides data on 14 high-risk surgeries, like heart valve replacement and total knee or hip replacements.
The second website, Surgeon Scorecard by ProPublica, lists surgeons who have higher-than-average complications based on infections, clots or infections that call for post-operative care. ProPublica editor Stephen Engelberg explained, “these days, consumers can review ratings on everything from plumbers to hair salons to the latest digital cameras. The process of undergoing surgery includes some of the most consequential decisions any of us ever make. So we began with the view that the taxpayers who pay the costs of Medicare should be able to use its data to make the best possible decisions about their healthcare.”
These new sites provide patients access to data that may be valuable in choosing or evaluating their doctors. While the sites will not, in and of themselves, dramatically improve outcomes, it makes healthcare consumers more knowledgable and able to make educated decisions about their care. In addition, it also makes it more difficult for surgeons with poor records to hide that information from future patients.