Online doctor-rating websites have been emerging left and right on the web and most doctors are not happy about it. Medical Justice, a company led by neurosurgeon Jeff Segal provides physicians with contracts that require a patient to ask for the physician’s permission to grade them online (WSJ Health Blog). Dr. Segal hopes that this initiative would reduce the number of “anonymous” ratings. “About a third of the 1,600 doctors who pay Medical Justice’s annual fee have asked for the online-review contract since the company started offering it earlier this year.” A response to Medical Justice’s proposal:

“I would personally not be likely to even want to be treated by a physician that was so paranoid about what might be said about them by a patient so as to request that such a document be signed by them. For me, that would be a signal to get the hell out of their office asap and never go back.” – JaneQPatient

As if there aren’t enough physician rating systems out there, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee are revising a health information technology bill regarding the creation of a physician rating system based on federal claims data that would take into account patient risk factors and health condition (Government Executive).

List of some doctor-rating systems
RateMDs
RateMDs is amongst the most popular physician-rating site available. It boasts theratemd.png largest free online physician rating system based on three factors (knowledge, helpfulness, and punctuality). The recent merger between the Nddb.net database with that of RateMDs further increases their dominance in the physician-rating arena. “The newly, combined database currently consists of over 350,000 ratings for physicians in the U.S. and Canada, and is growing by over 500 ratings per day; over 40,000 U.S. doctors are now rated. Over 10,000 users per day access the website and traffic has at least doubled each year since the site’s founding.”

ZocDoc
ZocDoc provides a multitude of services besides doctor ratings. The site lets patients book dentist and doctor appointments instantly online. No need to spend time on the phone or be kept on hold just tozocdoc.png schedule an appointment. With just a few clicks, the appointment is booked and confirmed within a day. The most useful function that the site offers involves searching for doctors based upon which insurance they accept. The site was founded by Oliver Kharraz, MD and Cyrus Massoumi. This idea is a very useful idea, but unfortunately, the site is currently only available for residents of Manhattan who are interested in booking a dentist. They do have plans on expanding the service to other cities and fields.

CareSeek
CareSeek is similar to RateMDs in concept but the rating criteria is based upon 5 areas: Communication and rapport,careseek.png Competence and experience, Responsive, Likely to recommend to [other] patients, and Treats staff with care. CareSeek also displays personal information about the physician in question (i.e. office address, telephone number, education etc.) The site seems relatively new with few reviews and I do not see any revolutionary features that would make it superior to RateMDs.

Healthgrades
A pay based site where users must pay a fee before they’re allowed a see a “report” on any given doctor.

Wellpoint and Zagat
Wellpoint and Zagat are teaming up to launch an online physician-rating tool, set to launch in January 2008. According to Wellpoint, information about physicians will not include malpractice lawsuits and each doctor will need at least 10 postings before the ratings will be posted publicly. (Source: USA Today)

Comments

  • On an episode of House M.D., a film crew follows House and his team around as they attempt to diagnose Kenny, a new patient of the team. Withhouse.jpg the TV crew documenting their every step, the team shuts down in providing House with theories that would lead to his diagnosis of Kenny. Online doctor rating tools acts as a TV crew watching the doctor’s every step. How could a physician be able to focus upon patient care if their focus is shifted to rankings, points and how the patient “views them” rather than what’s critical, the patient’s health.
  • There will be a shortage of doctors within a few years because insurance companies are raising their premiums higher for certain professions. The big question in regards to these ratings is how it would factor into insurance premiums for doctors and their practices.
  • Could this information be utilized by trial lawyers against a doctor in a court of law?
  • Online physicians rating systems won’t go away anytime soon. To make it a leveled playing field, the very least that these sites could do is to allow doctors to refute any derogative comments made by a user. In the current arena, the physicians are like boxing opponents who have stepped into the ring without the proper equipment to defend themselves against the onslaught of criticism against them.
  • There’s a lot of variability on who rates and comments on a particular physician. For instance, a patient who is known for narcotic abuse may rate a doctor poorly due to his refusal to prescribe a narcotic to him without a proper clinical indication. In similar situations, it would not prove to be a fair evaluation of the doctor and of their performance as a healthcare provider.
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