Establishing a Governance Structure for Doctor Reviews

You’ve made the decision to embrace transparency and publish physician reviews on your health system website. But being transparent doesn’t mean you’ll automatically publish every review comment. You’ll need a plan for reviewing and approving those comments.

Luckily, Empower can streamline that process. You can choose to have certain types of reviews published or rejected automatically, for instance, or be easily alerted to comments that contain profanity or protected health information (PHI).

Other reviews will need human attention. How will you deal with problematic posts? By establishing a formal governance structure, you can ensure the process is efficient, effective and fair. At Loyal, we’re here to guide you as you get your governance plan up and running.

Transparency in Healthcare Reviews: Document Everything

If you’re aiming for transparency in patient experience, you can’t hide the system you use to accept or reject comments and reviews. It’s important to come up with a concrete plan for deciding what to publish. Equally important: Document each step of that process so you have a guide to reference if any questions arise.

Providers need to understand that negative reviews are fair game. Deleting every less-than-flattering comment defeats the purpose of transparency. But providers will be reassured to know that they will be protected from defamatory or discriminatory reviews.

Governance procedures might look different from one healthcare system to the next. You may involve different departments in the review process or set different timelines. But anyone who brings reviews in-house should consider these steps as they define their comment review process.

Governance Structure Oversight: Getting Started

1. Define ownership.

You’ll want to set up a team of people who will determine whether comments should be excluded or edited. The team might be led by the marketing team or the patient experience team. What’s important is that the team members know who they are and what their role is in the process.

2. Determine exclusion criteria.

Once your review committee is in place, set clear rules for not publishing a physician review. Determine when you’ll delete comments and when you’ll edit them. (For comments that contain PHI, for example, you might choose to publish the comments with the protected information redacted.)

Some common exclusion criteria include:

  • Comments that risk patient dignity or disclose PHI
  • Reviews that refer to the wrong provider or department
  • Comments that use profane, derogatory, discriminatory or defamatory language
  • Comments about a provider’s personal appearance
  • Feedback that refers to the survey rather than the provider

3. Consider a system for appeals.

Some health systems allow providers to see comments about them before they’re published. Others do not. The choice is yours — but whatever you decide, it’s important to have the process clearly spelled out so that everyone knows what to expect. For instance, providers might have 2 weeks to review any comments about them. If they believe a comment should not be published, they can appeal the decision within that period. If they haven’t appealed within 2 weeks, comments will be automatically published.  

4. Create an escalation process.

Hopefully, if you’ve established clear exclusion criteria, most comments will fall into obvious yay-or-nay categories. But it’s important to have a system in place to handle questionable comments and provider appeals. Establish an escalation committee of team members who can review those comments. This committee might include members from the legal and/or human resources departments.

5. Set timelines.

You don’t want comments lingering unpublished for weeks on end. Map out timelines for each step of the process, including initial review, provider review and escalation.

Approving Doctor Reviews: Paving the Way

Screening provider reviews doesn’t have to be stressful or tedious. By mapping out a well-defined governance system at the outset, you’ll save time (and avoid headaches) down the road.