In the internet age we have become accustomed to both the availability and the ease with which we find information. Our high school English teachers would be amazed by our research skills, if only they could see us now! We research future employers, employees, dates, and anything else we want. So, why does it seem so difficult to do the same with doctors? Restaurants have accepted Yelp as a review site, but also as a marketing tool. Hotels have enacted a similar policy with sites like TripAdvisor. While many industries are facilitating and encouraging the review process, the medical field is distinctly hand off which can make it difficult to get any information about your doctor before your appointment. However, there are some workarounds to make sure your provider is a quality establishment.
Consumer Reports published this article highlighting some of the difficulties that clients may experience in trying to gain information about a prospective health care provider. In general, whether you are visiting health line, health grades, or even google’s reviews there is not much specific information to inform a potential customer. Or, the flip side is that you get a surprisingly deep dive into these reviewers health care details as they make their case for why the physician was good, or bad. Due to the particular nature of medical issues and the massive variety that most doctors deal with it is likely that you could scroll through hundreds of reviews and never find one that applies to you or your condition, which makes your job as a consumer all the more difficult.
There are some solutions, though. If you live in a smaller city, or even in a urban center that is compartmentalized into neighborhoods or boroughs, you will likely have some local pages on a social media site, such as Facebook, where you can post a question and get some feedback from people in your area. While this won’t exactly eliminate the issues discussed above, having a local touch and a face to the name is uniquely helpful for sharpening your picture of the provider. You can also just post on your personal social media page and possibly tag some of your connections there to get direct information from your contacts.
Another huge change that has been coming to the medical field finally is the reviews & customer testimonials process. You can go to the provider’s website and most will have a testimonials page or area where you can see feedback from actual clients. It is important to keep in mind that these are self-reported, so the savvy consumer may ask themselves if the office only puts up the positive reviews, or has an employee write the blurbs. This is a valid concern, but since you are a savvy consumer take some time and read those testimonials critically. Do they use similar verbiage? Do they discuss specific interactions or are they vague and mainly general information?
Those are some red flags that you should be aware of, more so than an anonymous name on the testimonials. Some providers, even if the patient doesn’t mind having their name used will still remove it for privacy reasons, so don’t necessarily be alarmed by that. Unfortunately, the reality of your predicament is that you really won’t know what experience you will have until you have that appointment, but at least these methods can help give you some information and context and help you avoid a negative experience.