Sealed with Integrity: Quality Data Drives Transparency

Added on Jun 10, 2015

A new symbol will be showing up on some health systems’ online physician review sites in the coming months: the Press Ganey Seal of Integrity​. Developed to address concerns about the quality of the data fueling online physician reviews, the seal symbolizes organizations’ commitment to the collection and reporting of scientifically rigorous and actionable data to improve the patient experience. 

As Press Ganey Chief Medical Officer Dr. Thomas H. Lee wrote in a recent article​ for the Harvard Business Review, the goal of transparency in health care should be to improve performance “by engaging patients and caregivers with complete and objective data.”

Organizations that earn the seal will be those that have committed to an aggressive standard of data integrity, including ensuring that published ratings are derived from a minimum “n” size of 30 returns per physician and using a star rating measure with a minimum statistical reliability of 0.97. Additionally, these organizations pledge to report every survey response and patient comment (suppressing only those with privacy or libelous information) and to comply with one standardized star rating system.

The Seal of Integrity indicates to patients and to physicians that the data being collected, measured, analyzed and reported by an organization accurately reflect provider performance that can be trusted by the community and can reliably inform improvement. 

This is a critical consideration for ensuring “transparency readiness.” With the proliferation of consumer review sites for comparing physician-level patient experience ratings, the need for an objective standard for data quality is fast becoming a business imperative. Health systems seeking to meet the increasing demand for such information while taking control of their online reputation cannot afford anything less. 

In the absence of a well-defined, industry-accepted data quality standard, the potential for confusion, misrepresentation and misinformation surrounding online reviews is high. Ratings that are based on low numbers of reviews and those that can be manipulated by suppressing specific data points can undermine a transparency initiative. When the methodology used to develop the ratings is inconsistent or unclear, physician engagement in transparency efforts will be hindered by their fear that the data could be of variable quality and will not accurately reflect their performance. And patient uncertainty about the integrity of the underlying data will threaten a health system’s brand. 

“As more and more consumers turn to online physician ratings when selecting a provider, we have a responsibility to ensure that the ratings available are objective, standardized evaluations of the patient experience that patients can trust,” said Press Ganey CEO Patrick T. Ryan. “The critical foundation of a successful transparency program is robust data capture. When health care consumers see the Press Ganey Seal of Integrity, they will know they are looking at a reliable review of that provider."

Transparency of patient experience data is a health care game changer. When properly executed, online reporting of patient experience outcomes supports informed patient choices about care, and allows providers to derive actionable insights, prioritize improvement efforts and track progress.

A transparency engine will only ever be as effective as the data powering it. For this reason, health systems seeking to deliver on the promise of transparency should only use the highest-quality “fuel” they can get by adopting and adhering to a rigorous standard of data integrity. Relying on anything less will cause the engine to falter, and perhaps even fail.

As important as the high standards are, so is the need to communicate those standards to internal and external stakeholders in order to build trust in the measurement and reporting processes as well as in the strategic decisions born from them.

Organizations that have earned the Seal of Integrity can confidently start and effectively power their transparency engines.