Broker Check

Doctor Rating Websites = Bad Science

| July 20, 2014
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Anonymous ratings on websites by patients about their Doctors are unreliable at best. Most patients (me included) cannot accurately determine if their Doctor is a good clinician. Many reviews online often do not address the Doctor’s capabilities but rather other aspects about the practice, staff, and marginal issues. Many reviews are not statistically relevant (two reviews?) or lack information in cases surrounding a complaint. Even a rating on the likability of a physician is often warped. Docs are allowed to have bad days like the rest of us, aren’t they? Should a physician that has treated hundreds of patients a month for years be judged by two or three patient reviews?

One bad or mediocre rating on HealthGrades, RateMDs, Yelp or Angies List can be expensive to a practice. Based on a recent New York Times article, Doctors have had success suing posters and websites. Be careful however if you try to even the score on some review websites by employing some trickery. False postings on third party websites by plastic surgery practice “Lifestyle Lift” rendered a $300,000 fine in New York in 2009 as a marketing practice that constituted deceptive advertising. Also, having a new patient sign a statement that they will not make comments on a website about you or your practice (negatively referred to as a “gag order” by website raters) will get your name instantly on RateMD’s “Wall of Shame”. Conversely, I think that a website that purports to rate the life work of a dedicated physician with a handful of random unverified reviews is shameful. I am for transparent and open disclosure, but considering the bad science employed by most of these websites, I cannot fault a physician that is protective of his or her reputation. That is smart, not shameful

A Better Approach

In contrast to most consumer driven physician-rating websites, Castle ConnoAnonymous ratings on websites by patients about their Doctors are unreliable at best. Most patients (me included) cannot accurately determine if their Doctor is a good clinician. Many reviews online often do not address the Doctor’s capabilities but rather other aspects about the practice, staff, and marginal issues. Many reviews are not statistically relevant (two reviews?) or lack information in cases surrounding a complaint. Even a rating on the likability of a physician is often warped. Docs are allowed to have bad days like the rest of us, aren’t they? Should a physician that has treated hundreds of patients a month for years be judged by two or three patient reviews?
One bad or mediocre rating on HealthGrades, RateMDs, Yelp or Angies List can be expensive to a practice. Based on a recent New York Times article, Doctors have had success suing posters and websites. Be careful however if you try to even the score on some review websites by employing some trickery. False postings on third party websites by plastic surgery practice “Lifestyle Lift” rendered a $300,000 fine in New York in 2009 as a marketing practice that constituted deceptive advertising. Also, having a new patient sign a statement that they will not make comments on a website about you or your practice (negatively referred to as a “gag order” by website raters) will get your name instantly on RateMD’s “Wall of Shame”. Conversely, I think that a website that purports to rate the life work of a dedicated physician with a handful of random unverified reviews is shameful. I am for transparent and open disclosure, but considering the bad science employed by most of these websites, I cannot fault a physician that is protective of his or her reputation. That is smart, not shameful
A Better Approach
In contrast to most consumer driven physician-rating websites, Castle ConnollyMedical Ltd rates top doctors by first surveying physicians and healthcare professionals. Practitioners are then asked to identify excellent doctors in every specialty in their region and throughout the nation. A research team at Castle Connolly then reviews the credentials of every physician being considered for inclusion in their guides, including a review of medical education, training, hospital appointments, administrative posts, professional achievements, and malpractice and disciplinary history. Doctors cannot pay to be listed in any guide.
Online Reputation Management (ORM)
The practice of monitoring the internet reputation of a person, brand or business with the goal of suppressing negative mentions or pushing them lower on search engine results pages is the new science of Online Reputation Management, or ORM. Reputation.com is a leader in ORM with a specialized service for monitoring patient’s reviews of medical practices. Starting at $49 a month the service will watch for bad reviews, place all your online reviews in one place on your dashboard, and help you “courteously request reviews and offer easy, site-specific instructions.”
A Harvard Business School study shows that the impact of consumer reviews onYelp.com on the restaurant industry is profound. A one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5 percent to 9 percent increase in revenue. How that would correspond to medical practice reviews is unknown. One thing is apparent: these doctor-rating sites have become an intimidating presence and are here to stay. Most doctors and most patients will continue to ignore these sites anyway until something of more substance and balance comes along. Be aware however that ignoring these websites could be costing your practice revenues.
lly
 Medical Ltd rates top doctors by first surveying physicians and healthcare professionals. Practitioners are then asked to identify excellent doctors in every specialty in their region and throughout the nation. A research team at Castle Connolly then reviews the credentials of every physician being considered for inclusion in their guides, including a review of medical education, training, hospital appointments, administrative posts, professional achievements, and malpractice and disciplinary history. Doctors cannot pay to be listed in any guide.

Online Reputation Management (ORM)

The practice of monitoring the internet reputation of a person, brand or business with the goal of suppressing negative mentions or pushing them lower on search engine results pages is the new science of Online Reputation Management, or ORM. Reputation.com is a leader in ORM with a specialized service for monitoring patient’s reviews of medical practices. Starting at $49 a month the service will watch for bad reviews, place all your online reviews in one place on your dashboard, and help you “courteously request reviews and offer easy, site-specific instructions.”

A Harvard Business School study shows that the impact of consumer reviews onYelp.com on the restaurant industry is profound. A one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5 percent to 9 percent increase in revenue. How that would correspond to medical practice reviews is unknown. One thing is apparent: these doctor-rating sites have become an intimidating presence and are here to stay. Most doctors and most patients will continue to ignore these sites anyway until something of more substance and balance comes along. Be aware however that ignoring these websites could be costing your practice revenues.

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