Hi, my name is Karen. I have been giving a lot of thought to the validity of online physician reviews and whether they truly reflect a physician’s competency or integrity. It is my opinion that they do not. I strongly believe that until physicians have the ability to respond openly to online allegations by those claiming to be patients, online reviews ultimately have little value in truly helping individuals make choices that keep them protected, safe and healthier. Ratings are like fine wine; if the experience is enjoyable the wine is wonderful. If your expectations are not met then the wine is not very good at all.
I went online and researched the pain management physicians in our community. Overall, the ratings were not very good; on average the ratings were between 1.8 and 5 with the average being 3 out of 5 stars. According to the reviews, the doctors I know, and for whom I have the deepest respect, must be bipolar. According to the ratings these doctors are kind and compassionate yet mean and cold; they have an excellent bedside manner or they have no bedside manner at all; they are good listeners or they don’t have ears and can’t listen, they are very knowledgeable or they never went to medical school…. And the list of polar opposites goes on and on.
More often than not online reviews do not reflect the quality of medical care but rather speak to an emotional response to something that occurred, good or bad. For example, patients do not like receiving medical bills and do not like perceived rudeness by clinic staff. They are unhappy if the physician disagrees with them, they hate long wait times, and they find prior authorizations frustrating, (news flash, so do we), and more often than not, they do not understand the limitations of their insurance as it relates to what can be done for them.
The reality of online reviews is that not everyone expressing their opinions online are actual patients. Online reviews can be posted by anyone whether or not they have legitimate ties to the physician. The rating sites do not verify the allegations, there is no authentication of the patient-physician relationship and there is no forum for physicians to accurately and honestly dispute the allegations. Think of it this way…. What if you could be accused of a crime and punished for that crime without the accusation being verified or substantiated? I find no justice in that scenario and I certainly find no justice in unsubstantiated online reviews.
It is my opinion that when it comes to online reviews, no one wins; the disgruntled patient isn’t made happier by their posting, the happy patient’s review goes unnoticed or disregarded, and in some cases the doctor may be hurt professionally by unsubstantiated, negative reviews.
Perhaps we can agree to stop reading and believing unverified information to becoming truly informed individuals by taking personal responsibility for verifying information prior to making critical decisions. If you would like to talk directly with one of our patients and receive a first-hand report how our providers are doing, please send us an email with your contact information.
In my opinion, accountability is where the rubber meets the road and it cannot be found in online reviews of physicians. We look forward to hearing from you!