Have you ever been referred to a doctor and wondered whether the doctor would be a good fit?
A friend of mine emailed me yesterday, telling me that he is going to a new specialist, referred by his primary care physician. He knew nothing about the doctor. He googled his address on Google maps. Surrounding the building on Google were diametrically opposed ratings of the specialist:
“BEST DOCTOR EVER!!! Whoever says otherwise, has never been to a professional doctor. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, you want Dr. X and his staff looking after you. I was his patient for 18 years and had to relocate to Fl and let me tell you I still traveled back and forth for nine years at least three times a year to see him. He kept me alive when every other doctor told me I only had five years. Thanks to him I’ve seen my children grow up to be adults. I’ve been able to have a normal life again and still have dreams of the future. I owe him my deepest thanks and my life, miss you lots doc. TY”
“He is a MORON. After an initial exam of 1 minute, he told me I had pseudogout. I was in unbearable pain. Never did a sed rate or CRP. Didn’t listen to me…I went to him for about a month..at one point he told me I had TB of the kidney…this is a horrible man..should not practice medicine. I finally went to an orthopedic doc who diagnosed me with reactive arthritis. I wrote a long letter to Albany about him. There are much better docs out there than this.”
My friend wrote: “I guess this is typical.”He went to the doctor and was noncommittal about his assessment.
Finding Useful Physician Reviews
The larger question here is where can patients find high-quality reviews of doctors on issues that matter to them? How do you control for who the reviewers are? How do you know whether a review is written by a sock puppet (a fake review)? Or whether a doctor’s publicist mounted a campaign for good reviews? Or whether some doctor just had a bad day? What kind of information would you like if you are looking for a new doctor that you don’t see? What rating schemes would be most helpful?