Transparency Fosters Physician Pride: It’s the Right Thing to Do

Dennis Jolley[Podcast] This installment in our continuing series of healthcare and hospital marketing interviews spotlights University of Utah Health Care, a leading academic medical center in Salt Lake City. Healthcare Success CEO Stewart Gandolf talks with Senior Director of Marketing Dennis Jolley at the recent Cleveland Clinic Patient Experience Summit.


You might imagine the not-so-warm reaction among physicians at the University of Utah Health Care when the medical center leadership first decided to publish the patient satisfaction scores of individual doctors. Not everyone was onboard or happy with this move, Dennis Jolley revealed. “We had physicians who said:

‘You can’t do that.’
‘I will sue you.’
‘I will quit.’
‘I will not allow you to use my scores.’

“We had people go through the Denial-Anger-Bargaining-Acceptance Pattern,” Dennis says in our podcast. “It was not easy. There were people who were not engaged right out of the gate.” But that didn’t last, and as things turned out, physician ratings are a point of considerable pride among physicians.

Backing up a few years, patient satisfaction at the academic institution was not good. Patient surveys showed the organization was “at the bottom of the [satisfaction] barrel.” We were shocked that people perceived us that way. But, despite efforts to improve, it was not until the top leadership made a strong “decision from the top,” Dennis explained.

High-level leadership engagement is vital to success in transparency and the success of a positive patient experience program. When the senior leadership at Utah Health Care embraced a policy of transparency and change, observing: “It’s not right that people feel this way. We have to fix this. It’s just the right thing to do.”

Dennis told us that, “He didn’t say that it was about money. He didn’t say that it was about anything except that it was ‘the right thing to do.’ These people come to us for care, and we provide great health care, but if they don’t feel well cared for, we’re not doing it right.”

As Stewart and Dennis discuss in our recorded session today, the concept of publishing individual physician ratings has been a significant catalyst for positive change. Today, the results of this and other improvements, physicians take pride in their ratings and are proud of the fact that Utah was one of the first major health systems to publish their scores online.

The physician numbers reflect the turnaround, with “25 percent of our physicians are among the top 10 percent nationwide, and of that group, half are in the top one percent nationwide for patient satisfaction scores,” Dennis reports. “Our physicians are incredibly proud of the fact that we’ve gotten to the place where our patients say good things about us.”

physician satisfaction

Stewart and Dennis also discuss the importance of physician leadership as an agent for change, improvements in patient awareness of quality of care, and how Utah Health Care has used physician scores in their marketing and advertising.

For more on these topics, listen to Stewart Gandolf’s insightful conversation with Dennis podcast

  • HSS Podcast Dennis Jolley, University of Utah Health Care
  • Transparent Physician Ratings: Because It’s the Right Thing to Do

For more, we previously published this podcast interview with Dennis Jolley: Satisfaction Scores: Online Trip Advisor for Selecting University of Utah Physicians.

 Stewart Gandolf, MBA, CEO


Dennis Jolley, MPH, MEd, is Senior Director of Marketing at the University of Utah Health Care. He oversees the marketing efforts for four hospitals, 10 community clinics, a health plan and a growing network of affiliate hospitals and physicians throughout the Intermountain West. As the region’s only academic medical center, University of Utah Health Care serves a five-state area covering over 10 percent of the lower 48 states. Previously, Dennis worked in communications and marketing roles at the office of the US Surgeon General and with two international foundations working to improve health in developing regions.




About Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is both the Publisher of and the Co-Founder of Healthcare Success. Stewart has written for dozens of leading healthcare publications and spoken at hundreds of venues on a variety of topics including marketing, reputation management and patient experience. Additionally, he has personally consulted for over 1,500 hospitals and practices. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Stewart worked for leading advertising agencies including J. Walter Thompson.

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