It seems that everyone is chasing after doctor and hospital ratings. From Revolution Health to Yelp, consumers are encouraged to rate hospitals and physicians in their communities. Hospitals and physicians are the two obvious providers to rate in our health care system. However, I think we have left out, the largest and, arguably the most important members of the health care profession — nurses, certified caregivers and home health aides.
Let’s compare the numbers.
Today, there are approximately 4,927 community hospitals and an average of 800,000 licensed physicians in the United States. Comparatively, there are 1.4 million registered nurses, 749,000 licensed practical nurses, and 1.8 million certified nursing assistants, home health aides and non-certified caregivers.
That is roughly 4.1 Million members of the health care community that we have left out of the ratings game.
All of us have been cared for, in one way or another, by a nurse or
nurses’ aide. There is a group of nurses at Strong Memorial Hospital in
Rochester, New York, who I credit with saving my brother’s life when he
was on a ventilator in their transplant unit. There is Jacqui, who
practically delivered my second daughter. My husband and I still talk
about Jacqui whenever we dive into the story of Julianna’s birth with
family and friends. She was everything you would want in a caregiver –
smart, knowledgeable, easy to talk to, soothing, helpful and kind.
Jacqui and the nurses at Strong Memorial Hospital would have five stars
under their profile picture – if there were a way for me to publicly
I have also had the unfortunate encounter with caregivers who should
not be, in my opinion, in the health care profession. I left my OB/GYN
six months pregnant with my first daughter when his nurse told me I was
overreacting to nightly nose bleeds, insomnia and bouts of hysteria.
“Your just pregnant, deal with it,” was her advice. In my caregiver
review, this nurse would have very few stars.
How is it that the largest segment of health care professionals, who
provide a majority of the direct, hands-on patient care have been left
out of the health 2.0 ratings explosion? These 4.1 million nurses and
nurse aides have greater daily contact with patients than anyone else
in the hospital, nursing facility or home care setting. They perform
clinical procedures, assess patient conditions, and monitor patient
stability. They take vitals, change dressings, bathe, feed and turn
patients. They communicate with family members and answer questions
often with the push of a button. They provide companionship and
assistance in the comfort of a patient’s home. They cook, clean and
monitor medication intake.
Even though nurses, certified aides and para-professionals provide care to
millions of patients annually, consumers have yet to be provided with a
tool for rating these caregivers. Although most providers evaluate
nursing staff and some are subjected to government regulatory review,
they do not actively seek caregiver ratings for all staff. Furthermore,
providers operating in the face of a significant nursing shortage,
sometimes accept mediocrity in order to maintain compliance with
mandated staffing ratios. Private providers even have more leeway in
turning a blind eye at poor caregivers in order to keep the doors open
and profit margins up.
An open source model for reviewing and rating nursing personnel is
desperately needed. Not just for families and patients, but for
caregivers as well. Talented caregivers should have a platform for
marketing their skills, building a network of referrals and leveraging
their abilities in this demanding labor market.
When I built ENURGI, my vision was to empower patients and families in
need of home care to connect with local caregivers. We have since built
the first national caregiver database with an open platform for
connecting and managing caregivers at home. The key feature of this
platform is caregiver ratings. Patients and families can rate their
caregivers based on quality, dependability, expertise and punctuality.
Initially, our ratings were open only to ENURGI patients who had
actually hired and received care from ENURGI caregivers. The reasoning
was that we wanted ratings submitted by patients who could objectively
assess the quality of caregivers on the site. Since our launch,
families, patients and co-workers across the country have urged us to
open the ratings to anyone. Patients sent us emails asking whether
they could rate caregivers who previously took care of them. Co-workers
who work or worked with ENURGI providers asked to submit ratings on
behalf of their colleagues.
The power of an open, caregiver rating system can be illustrated by a
recent encounter with someone who did not find her caregiver on ENURGI.
Rather, a woman who had recently lost her mom sent an email asking how
she could post a profile for the caregiver that had taken care of mom.
When I spoke to her, the woman explained that she wanted to help the
caregiver find another job because she was one of the most “amazing
caregivers” she had met. She emphasized that “anyone searching for
someone to help them care for a loved one” should be lucky enough to
have this caregiver. “Now that my mom has passed, I want to help her
find another job. She is family.”
ENURGI now is open to anyone wanting to search or rate a caregiver.
Chiara Bell is the CEO and founder of ENURGI.