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Don't Take Online Doctor Ratings Services Seriously

Armen Hareyan's picture
Doctors's ratings

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
• Education
• Professional Reputation/Recognition
• Awards
• Disciplinary History
• Experience with Specialty
• Community Involvement
• Board Certification(s)
• Malpractice Judgment(s)
• Publications
• Professional Affiliations

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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.



I agree with much of what you write in regards to most of these sites – many of these anonymous feedback sites have no policing of contributions by users. However… I would like to tell you a little bit about how Angie's List differentiates our service: 1.) Angie’s List is a subscription based service. When a consumer pays for our service, they don’t feel like they are simply subscribing to a ratings website. Rather, they are joining a community where participation is encouraged and the member is regularly engaged. The fact that they pay for the service proves the utility and value is real. 2.) Reviews on Angie’s List are not anonymous. If you submit a review on Angie’s List, your name is not posted on the website. However, if a provider you reviewed contacts us and asks about a specific report, we will give the provider the name of the member that submitted the report. This creates accountability on the part of the reviewer and, thus, enhances the quality (truthfulness) of the list. 3.) We have built in safe guards that prevent “gaming” of the list. These technological (and sometimes human) fraud detection processes and mechanisms prevent providers from stacking the deck with positive reports. If we detect fraud, the provider is publicly banned from the list. 4.) Angie’s List is not just a ratings and reviews website, we also play a role of consumer advocate. If a member has an issue with a provider they have unsuccessfully tried to address, we’ll help them. We have a crew of advocates that manage this process and work to establish resolution between the member and the provider. This service is include with a membership. 5.) We offer content to educate and empower. Angie’s List produces a monthly publication that offers consumers articles, tips and hints on how to be smarter consumers. We do this for health, auto, home improvement/repair and a variety of other categories. 6.) Last, but not least, we regularly engage our members and encourage them to submit reviews about their experiences with providers. We actively ask them to report on a variety of categories, and they are enthusiastic to share. Reviews can be submitted through our website, mail, e-mail, or over the telephone, and we’ve found that once a member starts reviewing their experiences, it becomes a habit. Respectfully, Mike Rutz VP, Angie's List Health
If hospitals and doctors will not police their own services then websites like HealthcareReviews.com will thrive. These websites are filling a need, if the doctors and hospitals provided their own credible ratings and reviews for the public no one would visit these other websites, instead they have chosen not to inform the public and whine about public rating websites online. Before these websites appeared healthcare providers had no one to answer to, can't blame them for longing for the good old days, too bad the genie is out of the bottle.