Making guesswork a thing of the past

Making guesswork a thing of the past

Co-founder and clinical ambassador Daniel Shaw discusses how GCR strives to ensure clinics deliver the best patient experience possible

Can you provide a brief outline of your role as clinical ambassador of the Global Clinic Rating (GCR)?
I’m privileged to have to role of representing GCR internationally, including its mission and vision, so that an increasing number of patients, clinics and hospitals begin to make their decisions by putting treatment outcome data first.

What do you enjoy most about working at GCR?
I’m proud to know that we are able to tell anyone within 60 seconds which clinics and hospitals that work with GCR perform are the best in their chosen specialisations. For example, which dental clinic has done work that lasts the longest, which fertility clinic can give the highest chance of having two male twins, or which cancer hospital has proven to increase current life expectancy after diagnosis by a factor of 10. This saves days of tiresome research online and, in the end, simply guessing which clinic will give the best results.

What is your professional background?
I came into healthcare completely by accident. When my grandfather suddenly lost control of his legs early in life and was diagnosed with a rare neurological disease, I was unable to find a local clinic that treated his illness. And when I did find a clinic online hundreds of miles from his home, I had no idea of the expected success rate if he had treatment in that clinic, as opposed to another clinic in another part of the country for example.
When discussing this issue with other patients facing major health conditions, I found that this problem still applies to everything from dentistry to cardiology , even in today’s digital age – there are no quality outcomes of medical facilities published for fair comparison. So, we built the global clinic rating – GCR.org.

Can you give an insight into the types of fact-based action steps you provide for clinic owners and the impact these might have?
AID is an acronym we use at GCR to help clinics and hospitals understand the three fact-based action areas that are involved in working with GCR:
A - Assess/analyse how the clinic stands today compared to other clinics locally and worldwide in the areas of expertise, facilities, services and patient outcomes available.
I - Implement/improve on what we’ve discovered in A.
D - Demonstrate what’s been discovered in A and I to the clinical team, stakeholders and patients to improve the clinic’s reputation, transparency, quality outcomes and revenue.
There are three major differences that GCR has brought to international healthcare as opposed to traditional third-party accreditations and standards:
GCR gives a simple quality one to five score understood in every language of the world,

I encourage all patient co-ordinators for clinics large and small to always find out what the patient expects from the clinic before treatment starts, and then do all they can to surpass that

in every culture and by every patient. GCR started to rate clinics according to specialisation rather than as a whole. For example, a clinic may have great outcomes in cancer therapy but poor scores paediatric care. A traditional accreditation will simply tell you that this clinic or hospital passes or does not pass their standards as a whole, which I believe is a misleading representation of quality for the patient.
Finally, GCR gives patients and clinics updated scores in real-time. This means that our rating algorithm is constantly updating itself and reassessing the clinics based on new data reported to us each day about the clinics. A clinic/hospital may improve or decrease rapidly in quality within a matter of months, so with the GCR a fair representation of the current state of the healthcare facility is reported, rather than a check of standards done every few years.

What are some of GCR’s proudest milestones to date?
What started as a simple comparison of a few hundred clinics on a spreadsheet in 2014, GCR has grown from a beta test rating 126,000 dental clinics worldwide in late 2015 to rating 432,000 clinics within 17 medical specialisations during 2017. We’ve very excited to see what will happen next.

How does GCR go about assessing a clinic?
We use a model that was developed by our advisory board of experts, which we call the four pillars of clinic excellence. We look at the level of expertise, facilities, services and patient outcomes available, and within each pillar we give the clinic a score. This means that while a clinic might score highly in the level of expertise available, if they don’t have the technology available to support high clinical and patient outcomes this will be reflected in the overall score.

What advice would you give to a patient looking for medical care who is unsure of where and how to begin looking?
Doctor recommendations are still the safest bet. However, I recommend a patient asks their referring doctor to support their recommendation with data. Without that, while simple

I’m a firm believer that a positive patient experience always results in the patient experiencing better outcomes than expected

reviews of a hospital or clinic are a good place to start, they’re not enough to base medical decisions on.
Patients should compare as best they can the level of expertise, facilities, services and patient outcomes available of a handful of suitable clinics, then start communicating with them. Communication with the clinic is often the best barometer of their professionality and creating a judgement of a patients’ expected treatment outcome with that particular medical clinic.
Our hope is that GCR will soon make all this guesswork a thing of the past.

For you, what are the ingredients of a positive patient experience?
While patient decisions are usually determined by three major factors – accessibility, cost and expected outcome – I’m a firm believer that a positive patient experience always results in the patient experiencing better outcomes than expected.
That’s why I encourage all patient co-ordinators for clinics large and small to always find out what the patient expects from the clinic before treatment starts, and then do all they can to surpass that.

Do yourself, and GCR as a whole, face any particular challenges in your work?
Any company that collects patient data has to deal constantly with the issue of protecting patient privacy. While privacy is of course a necessity, it does create a barrier in collecting patient treatment outcomes, and improving healthcare globally. Patients that I’ve talked to in many countries of the world often express that they’d happily give their patient data to improve healthcare worldwide, and are much more wary of someone misusing their Facebook data as opposed to their blood pressure, heart rate and mobility scores.

Looking ahead, what will GCR be focusing on in the coming five to 10 years?
The next five years will bring a massive revolution in healthcare and GCR hopes to be a core part of that. With a medical issue 5,000 years ago, we prayed to the Gods to help us. Two thousand years ago, we started to turn to human doctors instead for suggestions and intervention. Ten years ago, we started to turn to data. If you go to a doctor today, you very often get blood tests, an MRI, an EEG, an X-ray or genetic tests that produce data by which a doctor or, more increasingly, algorithm, can interpret the data. Increasingly, which clinic/hospital you should ideally visit will be data driven too.

What are your hopes for the future of cross-border patient care?
Clinics and hospitals with some of the best patient outcomes have been found in the most unlikely places of the world, and often don’t have the reputation to get the word out about how well they are doing. A better hospital or clinic is often closer than you think – and I trust that GCR will make that information available, while making the comparison of the quality of clinics between towns, countries and continents even easier.

On a personal level, do you have any exciting plans or goals for the coming years?
Since working with GCR, I’m increasingly aware of the masses of patients around the world who are in the closing years, months or days of their lives due to an unexpected accident, medical mistake or illness.
This makes me acutely aware of how precious time really is, so I’ve been creating a book and phone app designed as a personal ‘memento mori’, reminding us that we could die anytime – in order to live more and live wisely.