A Thought on the Online Rating of Doctors

When discussing sites which allow patients to rate doctors, I have frequently heard the argument that the ratings wouldn’t really be useful or meaningful.

My response to this is that it doesn’t matter at all how accurate or meaningful the ratings on these sites are- users will like them (and use them) regardless.

My wife, for instance, spent a good bit of time examining books about pregnancy, parturition, and the care of infants. Rather than making use of the abundance of experts at her disposal (including midwives, OBs, medical librarians, and pediatricians), she took very seriously how well reviewed and rated each book was on Amazon.com.

Nevermind if the particular review of a particular book showed the reviewer to be ignorant and semi-literate. What mattered was that the ratings were overwhelmingly positive.

So here’s the advice I gave physicians at the 28th Annual AMA Medical Communications Conference:

Rather than fretting about potentially negative reviews on sites that allow patients to rate or review physicians (about which, after all, little can be done), the physician should place her/his efforts into building a very strong Web presence. Hire a white hat SEO consultant if you have to, but make sure that anyone Googling your name (or your practice’s name) sees YOUR site first in the search results.

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