Doctor Ratings - Can You Trust Them?
Seemingly overnight, several websites have popped up online, giving out doctor ratings for thousands and thousands of physicians across the country. These websites are supported, read by, and have their content created by people just like you who have their opinions and want to share them with a broader audience. This sort of thing has long been the case in cyberspace with restaurants, stores, and products. It was only a matter of time before people began seeing the potential for the same sort of reviews for our healthcare professionals. But if you're looking for a good physician, can you rely on these sites to help you?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many physicians and physician's groups don't care for online doctor ratings sites. They believe that competition and a few bad apples will likely spoil the whole process. Their argument lies in the fact that a few patients who have personal disagreements with their physician are likely to go online to these sites and rant about it, quite possibly never bringing up their actual problem. For instance, physicians have begun to notice patients looking for prescription drugs to continue addictions have been known to threaten their physicians with bad reviews if they don't bend to their will. This kind of blackmail not only goes against what healthcare should be about, but it also undermines the concept of an open opinion forum.
Of course, there are arguments on the other side of the fence as well. Advocates say that an open forum is a breath of fresh air for patients looking for a physician. Before they began to spring up, the healthcare community was closed and fraternal, making it very difficult for the average patient to find a physician that was right for them. With doctor ratings sites, the playing field has been leveled. People can express their dissatisfaction as well as their praise for a physician or clinic and others can benefit from their experience.
The truth, as it always is, is probably somewhere in the middle. Can you use these sites to make an informed decision about which physician to go to? Without a doubt. However, use your own discretion when reading through the opinions. If there are a couple of scathing reviews in the middle of a sea of praise, you can probably take the bad ones with a grain of salt. If there are only two or three opinions about a particular physician, understand that you can't really make a judgment call, even if all of them go one way or the other. As long as you use your head, they can be a valuable resource.
by: Abigail Aaronson