Where Are the Online Doctor Reviews?

The online review site hasn't caught on for the health industry the way Yelp did for restaurants or TripAdvisor did for travel.

There are many industries that have benefitted from the presence of online reviews sites, such as TripAdvisor or Yelp, but the trend hasn’t quite caught on for the health industry yet.

The New York Times pointed out

in a recent article that there is not definitive source for patients to visit for reviews on physicians. Sure there are some sites — HealthGrades.com, RateMDs.com and even Angie’s List — but not to the degree of the listings in other industries and no one is authoritative on the topic.

One problem has been that these sites often find themselves on the wrong end of a legal threat when there are negative reviews. Another is that if reviewers can stay anonymous, it just doesn’t hold the same weight when it comes to such an important decision. But sometimes anonymous is the only way patients feel they can be truthful.

“If they live in a small town or are only one or two degrees of social separation from physicians or their family members, they may not want to create any awkwardness,” according to the article.

But, the article points out, patients also trust their doctors very much. They sort of have to. As a result they may not be prone to questioning their doctor, leading to low participating in online reviewing or higher positive reviews.

If the health care law isn’t overturned by the Supreme Court this year, then more information on doctors may be coming out soon. One requirement is that Medicare shares certain data about doctors.

“Until a single one-stop shop exists for both reviews and data that are fair and useful, we are left with one another,” the article reads.

Should patients be encouraged to review their physicians online, or is this one area where the online review doesn’t have a place?