Rating professionals is not a new concept for web sites. Most college students are familiar with rate your professor web sites that let them rate and review their professors. And thanks to consumer driven web sites, consumers are already familiar with rating their contractors, dry cleaners and other professionals hired for a job. But, now there are web sites that allow consumers to rate doctors.
Rating doctors however is not quite the same as rating other professionals, as many doctors who oppose the web site concept have pointed out. For one thing, if you don’t like your dry cleaner or contractor, and post a poor review of their services, it is fairly straight forward to assess blame. Your contractor, for example, can reply to your post and review about their performance, and give the public their version of events. The doctor, on the other hand, is bound by privacy laws and there fourth doesn’t have the luxury of a posting a public reply.
This situation has the potential to create postings that rate doctors as slightly one sided. To counter this side effect the more reputable web sites won’t post any anonymous postings, so any patient who chooses this public forum to rate doctors, does so with their name also attached. But despite these safeguards, a patient can choose to leave out information or exaggerate information to suite their rating, even if they don’t do it intentionally.
Advocates, who favor the rating system, argue that these web sites, allow patients to have a voice and be heard in the medical world. The medical world, as patient advocates point out, can be an intimidating system to navigate.
Some could argue the point that having a web site that allows patients to rate doctors levels the playing field and gives both sides some power and a voice. Doctors after all have been used to having the final say and having all of the power in these relationships. It has only been lately with the help of the internet that patients have been able to surf the web and get some insight into their own medical condition, tipping the sense of power into balance.
Still, despite the pros and cons of a system that can rate doctors as easily as it can rate your contractor, it is doubtful that these web sites will disappear or loose their ability to alter perceptions. However, patients who post reviews should strive to be accurate, factual and honest and consumers who read the reviews for guidance should be careful to not dismiss a doctor based on one bad review, bearing in mind that not all of the facts are being laid out from just one person’s perspective.