Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Doctors Reviewed Online

One of the growing trends online that has been spreading like a virus is that of sites that allow people to provide feedback on goods or services they have received. The ability to have an independent platform for both praise and complaints is refreshing to many. After all, most people trust "word of mouth," and the relation of personal experience far more than any sales pitch. It is the trend du jour, as sites across the net will demonstrate. There are websites for rating and reviewing all kinds of products and services ranging from cars to college professors, and now there are a whole new generation that focus on health care providers.

Via Shari Roan of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

They're saying what they think about the state of health care and, more specifically, the doctors who provide it. Dozens of Web sites that permit people to rate, review, spin or flame their doctors have sprung up in the past year, operating in much the same way as online services that help people find hotels or plumbers.

Patients and site operators say the trend is good for consumers and good for health care. Thoughtful doctors, they say, will provide better customer service because of the feedback, and the bad ones will no longer be able to hide. Many physicians say the reviews on RateMDs.com, Vitals.com, DrScore.com and other sites are skewed by disgruntled patients and are unfair, pushing some doctors to near-ruin after a single post.

Ms. Roan provides a lot of solid background and quotes from authorities that are both pro and con. She also includes a bullet list of the six top sites for the rating and reviewing of health care professionals.

Since legally a doctor cannot publicly discuss a patient's health care, they are at a bit of a disadvantage as far as dealing with detractors on the Internet, to say the least. It remains to be seen how much impact reviews like these will have on bad doctors, and likewise how much damage might be done to the good ones. In the past, I have worked in the service and retail industries, and in both it was very much a truism that 99% of people will never comment unless they have a complaint. This tendency has potential to skew these sites, so it will be interesting to watch the evolution of checks and balances develop as they evolve.

SOURCE: "Doctors are 'in' for online evaluation" 07/30/08
photo courtesy of Geishaboy500 used under its Creative Commons license

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