Hospitals’ fight over doc rankings

    A judge has settled a squabble between two South Jersey hospitals over which one has the most highly ranked physicians. But do patients really care either way?

    A judge has settled a squabble between two South Jersey hospitals over which one has the most highly ranked physicians. Both Cooper University and Virtua want to claim that they have the most so-called “Top Docs” in the region. But do patients really care either way?
    (Photo:http://www.flickr.com/photos/superfantastic/ / CC BY 2.0)

    Listen:

    [audio:090925kgtopdocs.mp3]

    A district court judge decided that both hospitals can claim Top Doc status, as long as they say where the rankings come from. Often these lists appear in regional magazines. But all the money spent on marketing and lawsuits may matter to a just small percentage of patients. Linda MacAleer is the president of the marketing research firm Melior Group. Her team surveyed hundreds of people about Top Doc rankings, and found the vast majority did not care about a doctor’s status.

    MacAleer: We learned that three quarters of our respondents, 76 percent, agree that the Top Docs list are compiled mainly for marketing and advertising purposes for the doctor and hospital and they’re not necessarily a reflection of the providers’ excellence.

    Instead, patients trust the referral from their primary care physician. McAleer says the lawsuit has had a mixed impact.

    McAleer:
    Research that we’ve done in that market suggests that it has elevated the names of these hospitals. I think it has made these lists look less important rather than more important.

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