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Continued: Minnesota patients reveal the best and worst clinics

  • Article by: JEREMY OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 15, 2013 - 9:45 AM

Steve Schwarze of Eagan said he completed a survey this year that won’t make MAPS look any better. While he had no trouble getting a first appointment for back pain, he said, he found the clinic unresponsive when he called between appointments seeking a medication refill and when he needed the clinic to contact his insurer to approve a procedure.

“I gave them every chance I could,” said Schwarze, who switched to another pain clinic.

Pitfalls

Minnesota has been a leader in rating clinics based on performance criteria. But rating doctors by patient survey responses has caused some unease, in part because doctors sometimes have to make tough decisions that might upset patients, such as declining to give them antibiotics or imaging scans when they aren’t necessary. Some have worried that doctors could be swayed to make decisions purely to appease their patients and improve their ratings.

Ehlinger said the breadth of responses means that a clinic’s scores won’t be influenced too heavily by any one patient. Clinics had to have at least 120 patient responses, for example, for their access scores to be listed.

Clinic results are searchable by specialty, which could be important because patient satisfaction can vary by clinic type. Cancer specialists, for example, tended to receive more positive feedback. Urgent cares such as the Apple Valley clinic scored lower on patient surveys, probably because the patients have no prior relationship with the doctors. The three lowest-rated clinics for physician quality were all urgent cares.

All clinics are now expected to collect and provide their survey data. Most hire survey companies at a minimum cost of $1,200 per year. Clinics not listed this year included those with too few patients to provide reliable data and pediatric clinics, which will be evaluated separately.

 

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744

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