Doctor navigator: Rate and search for doctors online

Online doctor navigator should simplify the search for a doctor

With an online portal on which doctors are rated by the insured, the AOK and the Barmer GEK want to significantly simplify the search for doctors for their members. The so-called online "doctor navigator" is now available to around 30 million insured persons of the two statutory health insurance companies, according to today's press release. However, the online doctor search servers did not stand up to the public interest triggered by the media coverage and have not been accessible since the morning.

In the future, the insured of the AOK and the Barmer GEK will be able to register with their insured and health insurance numbers in the online "doctor navigator" in order to submit an anonymous evaluation to the various doctors. This is then available to all interested parties to help them find a doctor. With the help of the online portals, the search for a doctor is enriched by an objective qualitative characteristic, the initiators hope. The AOK doctor navigator and the corresponding online portal of the Barmer GEK are used as a so-called "white list" by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the Federal Working Group on Self-Help, the German Working Group on Self-Help Groups, the Forum for Chronically Ill and Disabled People in the Parity Association, the Social Association VdK and the Federal Association of Consumer Centers.

Registration with insured person and health insurance number In the online "doctor navigator" of the two health insurance companies, insured persons with a minimum age of 15 years can register with their insured person and health insurance number in order to then submit ratings to the various doctors. For the time being, only assessments by resident doctors who have regular contact with their patients are possible. Specialists who are in rather irregular contact with patients have so far been left out. So far, for example, no assessments can be made about laboratory doctors, pathologists or psychotherapists. An evaluation of dentists has not yet been possible in the online "doctor navigator". However, appropriate questionnaires should be put online in a next step. Registering with the insured and the insurance number ensures that each insured person can only give one assessment per doctor and attempts to deceive through multiple evaluations are prevented, explained Jürgen Graalmann, deputy chairman of the AOK federal association.

Evaluated criteria of the online "doctor navigator" In the online questionnaire for the evaluation of doctors, 33 questions are asked, among other things, for information on the subject areas "doctor communication", "treatment", "waiting time" and "practice and staff". The test phase in the pilot regions of Berlin, Hamburg and Thuringia, which has been running since May 2010, has shown that the subject areas mentioned are particularly important for the patients on the one hand and that they can best be assessed on the other, the AOK explained when introducing the online "doctor navigator". This is the best way for patients to assess whether the doctor has included them in decisions and has protected their privacy. Ultimately, patients know very well which doctor they would recommend to their friends - and which one they would rather not. According to the initiators, this knowledge should now be bundled in the online "doctor navigator" in order to provide the insured with objectively comprehensible criteria when searching for a doctor.

Successful balancing act between user-friendliness and security needs The health insurance companies have taken into account the concerns of doctors about improper criticism or possible defamation by the fact that free textual formulations are not included in the evaluation and doctors can respond to the critical information provided by the insured with a comment at any time. In addition, doctors can upload photos of their practice to ensure adequate presentation. In this way, "the balancing act between a pronounced need for security on the one hand and a high degree of user-friendliness on the other hand" succeeds, emphasized Rolf-Ulrich Schlenker, Vice President of the Barmer GEK. The "doctor navigator" also offers doctors a good opportunity to get regular information about the assessment of their own performance and thus receive "systematic feedback", added the deputy chairman of the AOK Federation, Jürgen Graalmann. In order to rule out bias in the assessment, the results of the survey in the doctor search are only visible for ten or more assessments per doctor, and doctors can have the entries for their person blocked so that they no longer appear in the doctor search.

Doctors approve of the new online portals. After the initial rejection, the doctors became friends with the online "doctor navigator" in view of the generous concessions. "This portal can be a source of information," Roland Stahl, spokesman for the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, told the "dapd" news agency. In contrast to other offers, which often serve as an “electronic pillory”, quality guidelines of the medical profession would be taken into account, so that in the end not only the insured but also the doctors can benefit from the portal. However, according to Roland Stahl, "the best recommendation channel is still the personal one". However, the online doctor's notices are a helpful addition.

Disrupted relationship of trust Reason for changing doctors In particular for patients who have been disappointed by their doctor or who simply want to call a second opinion on their personal ailments, the online "doctor navigator" is a promising option. You can easily find out about the quality of the available doctors from home. However, only the physicians with health insurance approval are listed here. For the legally insured, however, this should not be a restriction, since in any case only the treatment by the health insurance company is covered by their insurance. Expensive specialists without health insurance approval are left out in the online "doctor navigator". Rainer Sbrzesny from the Independent Patient Advice Service Germany (UPD) in Berlin recommends that insured persons change their doctor especially when "the relationship of trust is no longer established". The online "doctor navigator" then offers a good basis for paying particular attention to those factors that caused the breach of trust with the previous doctor in the future when searching for a doctor, and to exclude them from the outset. (fp)

Also read:
Doctor Navigator: Doctors rate online
AOK plans grades for doctors
Online evaluation by doctors
Assessment portal for hospitals launched
Online evaluation by doctors

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