Don't Take Online Doctor Ratings Services Seriously
With so many new sites offering free anonymous doctor ratings and information about physicians' credentials, consumers expect to be able to find out everything about their doctors. However, because anybody can sign up and add positive or negative feedback regarding their experience with a particular physician, no patient potential patients should take these ratings seriously.
While they may be helpful, these ratings can easily be manipulated by a patient, doctor, hospital staff, or anybody online; the reality is that, no matter hood good, how bad, or how renowned the physician is, every physician will have some negative information, since it's virtually impossible to satisfy everyone. Whether the ratings on a site are for professionals, products, or service companies, there will be negative information. Even the Goliath Google, which is by far the most successful search engine in the world and, one of the most successful companies in the world, has an unsatisfactory record with the Better Business Bureau.
A Doctor's Reputation
Some doctors have begun having their patients sign contracts designed to "respect their physician's privacy on the Internet" by agreeing not to participate in online ratings of doctors. While it's common practice for patients to sign a contract regarding frivolous malpractice lawsuits before they have surgery, these "Internet privacy" contracts are becoming more common because of the ease with which ratings can be manipulated anonymously.
A Better Way
Although the objective factors listed below may not mean much to the average patient, when each category is factored into the total equation, the resulting rating is much more relevant and precise than anonymous ratings.
• Academic Appointments
• Hospital Appointments
• Professional Reputation/Recognition
• Disciplinary History
• Experience with Specialty
• Community Involvement
• Board Certification(s)
• Malpractice Judgment(s)
• Professional Affiliations
The average patient cares little about the doctor's license number, expiration date, degree dates, and training dates; however, the database from which this kind of information comes is much more reliable, updated, relevant, and detailed as it relates to a physician's credential, history, and background. Dates that are associated with a doctor's professional history are important because they tie into the experience factor and are much harder to obtain and transfer into a proprietary system, such as a commercial "doctor rating" site.
The Future in Comprehensive Physician Ratings
How It Will Doctors' Ratings Work
1.Software collects and scours data about physician(s), their profiles and histories using an in-house string of doctor credential information databases.
2.The data is analyzed and compared to data for all other specialists in the specified field.
3.Physicians' profiles are matched and compared within the specialty field, using a combination of a customized doctor rating scoring system and other methodologies.
4.The software uses innovative algorithms to calculate each part of a physician's profile.
5.The system combines the doctor's overall ratings with the requested background report.
In a perfect world, doctor ratings would be unnecessary; however, every physician is unique in his or her own area of expertise/special interest, and having tools to find the right physician - by word of mouth, reliable doctor ratings services, or referrals - will result in an informed patient, which is the best kind of patient there is.
Hugo Gallegos is founder of http://www.mdnationwide.org, a research & information company specializing in identifying America's top medical specialists, and providing comprehensive medical doctor background reports.