Jun 6, 2016

Letter From The Editor: Navigating The Web Based Rating Sites For Physicians

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By Dr. Christopher Zachary, Zalea Editor-In-Chief

As a prospective patient searching for the right physician to perform a procedure, how might you navigate the various internet MD rating sites that have proliferated in recent years?

One of the problems with these sites is that patients who are happy with their care tend not to rate their physicians, whereas those who are unhappy tend to rate them with a vengeance. So you have to assume that there will be a disproportionate number of negative reviews from those who are indeed dissatisfied, for whatever reason. Of course, physicians themselves and their offices are not above playing the game … by padding the positive reviews.

Some major news organizations have highlighted the extraordinary power that these sites have, not only for medical practices but also for restaurant owners, car mechanics and so forth. It is often the more sensationally negative reviews that appear prominently, with the more positive reviews being relegated to the less easily accessed pages, if shown at all. Further, some sites will alter their ratings if the physicians sponsor (advertise) on the rating site, an unethical practice.

Clearly, there should be a mechanism for patients to indicate their unhappiness at poor practices, bad outcomes, and unprofessionalism. In reality, these are probably best directed first to the physician, and then the affiliated medical administration, and/or their professional licensing body. Indeed, many clinics are offering their patients the ability to provide immediate feedback via electronic media. Those that have instituted this practice have noted that their physicians and staff pay better attention to problematical issues, and enhance rather than detract from their practices.

Rather than criticize specific rating sites, I’d like to suggest that these could become a force for good by supplying reliable, credible, objective reviews based on hard outcomes data.  In this regard, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is planning to pay for performance using specific criteria which has to be supplied by physicians and medical centers.

In the meantime, Zalea has at its core the promise to provide fair and balanced information so as to redress the hype and confusion concerning aesthetic medicine that exists in the media. The Editorial Board is committed to minimizing bias, and telling the truth. Many exciting new projects lie ahead for Zalea and its consumers, including a rating scale for devices that we believe will be responsible and reliable, a friend to the information seeking public.

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