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UnitedHealthcare now posts Healthgrades star ratings for each physician: 7 key notes

UnitedHealthcare now posts HealthGrades' patient satisfaction scores for each physician, according to a Medscape report.

The move is controversial, as online reviewers sometimes attract the most disgruntled or dissatisfied patients. The responses may not represent the physician's overall patient pool. Here are five key notes:

1. UnitedHealthcare introduced Healthgrades' star ratings earlier this year. Around 50 other insurers also share that data with beneficiaries searching for network physicians.

2. Insurers can obtain ratings through third party data licensing companies. Some also work directly with Healthgrades.

3. UnitedHealthcare said the ratings were part of ongoing efforts to reinforce quality of care. The insurer also hopes to increase member education and align with CMS tools.

4. Healthgrades shares just the stars rating system, not written comments. The stars score physicians on:

• Patient trust in physician decisions
• Explanations for medical conditions
• Listening and answering questions
• Time spent with the patient
• Ease of scheduling
• Office environment
• Staff friendliness
• Total wait time

5. The partnership also outlines that Healthgrades isn't responsible for inaccuracies in the physician profile since UnitedHealthcare is responsible for supplying basic physician information.

6. The average number of survey respondents is around 15, but varies by physician and specialty. Around 80 percent of patient ratings on Healthgrades say they would recommend their physician to others with only 15 percent giving physicians one star. The site has around 6.5 million patient responses.

7. Healthgrades audits the survey responses to ensure there isn't suspicious activity, such as one person creating multiple emails to rate one physician negatively multiple times.

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