Be More Careful with Online Medical Reviews

Nowadays, before buying something, people go online to look for reviews. Before making a final decision, they want to see what other users have to say about that particular good or service. However, it turns out that when it comes to doctors, things are not so simple.

Countless doctors complain that their careers are unfairly hurt by fake online reviews. Dr. Saralyn Mark once found an online review about herself, which said that she didn’t give one of her patients enough time and didn’t treat him with respect. The address on the review was the doctor’s own home address.

Outraged, Dr. Mark sent a blast email to all of her colleagues and found out that almost all of them experienced something similar. Understandably, most of them are too busy to keep track of more than a dozen online doctor review sites.

There are many reasons for doctors to be upset by these reviews. Patients aren’t the only ones who look at them. They are also looked at by medical credentialing departments, insurance providers, faculty, and colleagues.

So who is posting these fake reviews? Many doctors think that they may be the work of competing offices or disgruntled former employees. The strange thing is that after those one-star reviews appear, many doctors are contacted by questionable companies, who claim they will repair their online reputation for a lot of money.

As a result, many doctors want patients to be extra careful with online reviews, because they don’t always represent the truth. Many are asking for a platform, which would include reviews and information that is vetted more carefully.

However, there is the other side of the coin. While fake negative reviews hurt the doctors, fake positive reviews may hurt patients. When patients choose a doctor based on fake, unreliable positive reviews, it can be a matter of life or death.

Websites like WebMD and Vitals.com say they take extra measures to remove questionable reviews by using special filters. In any case, doctors recommend patients to reach out to friends and family or other medical professionals instead of relying solely on reviews.

Vocabulary

  1. Countless – very many; too many to be counted
  2. Fake – not real
  3. Outraged – shocked; offended; horrified
  4. Blast email – sending electronic messages to many people at the same time
  5. To keep track of – monitor; keep fully aware or informed about
  6. Faculty – the members of a particular profession, especially medicine, considered collectively
  7. Disgruntled – angry or dissatisfied
  8. Vet – make careful and critical examination of something
  9. The other side of the coin (idiom) – the opposite side/aspect of a situation

Questions for Discussion

  1. In your opinion, when is someone most likely to post a review, when they are happy or angry? Explain your answer.
  2. Do you trust online reviews? Why or why not?
  3. What system or platform would you suggest to make doctor reviews fair?

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