Here’s an interesting piece from the New York Times, noting that it’s puzzling that there is no authoritative on-line collection of reviews for physicians, the highest-stakes choice of service provider that most people make. From the article, some suggestions as to why this is the case:
- Getting in the faces of the previously untouchable professional class has inevitably led to legal threats.
- “To advise people anonymously through an open site when this is an important decision for people’s lives, I don’t think it’s proper,” noted the A.M.A.’s president, Dr. Peter W. Carmel. “The evidence that’s given on many of these consumer sites is undocumented, unverified and anonymous. It may well have nothing to do with actual patient treatment.”
- Given many physicians’ wariness, it’s understandable that patients may be reluctant to mix it up with them online. But patients may be steering clear for a far more ordinary reason: if they live in a small town or are only one or two degrees of social separation from physicians or their family members, they may not want to create any awkwardness.
- Perhaps the biggest problem with the ratings is that they are incomplete. WellPoint tracks doctors’ communication skills, availability, office environment and trust, but it doesn’t yet provide information about medical outcomes. While it’s nice to know how long different obstetricians make you wait, it would also be helpful to know how many babies they end up delivering by C-section.