Rate your doctor

In Health industry on March 18, 2009 by Danielle Tagged: , , , ,

The consumer side to public medical care has reared its (not so ugly) head in a BMJ article published on the web yesterday.  Written by the founder of, Neil Bacon, it discusses the UK government’s decision to set up a doctor rating system on NHS Choices.

Doctor rating is nothing new.  Just look at rateMDs, or do a search for ‘doctor rating’ on the ‘net.  Much to my amusement, in university, a professor brought in a selection of reference books, including an encyclopaedic book with listings and ratings of MDs practising in the USA.  At the time I thought, why is this necessary?  Shouldn’t they all be good communicators, intelligent and dedicated?

Yes, but unfortunately for me, this is unrealistic.  I have had some duds in my time–not with MDs but other health professionals. A dentist whose professional advice was to have EIGHT x-rays of my teeth taken in one sitting (I had to sign a ‘refusal’ form to refuse this) and an optomologist whose bedside manner was at times patronising and at times confrontational, and whose prescription was ultimately incorrect.

I think the quality of doctor rating websites needs to improve so that these ratings are findable and usable.  It is quite important that healthcare consumers are heard but are not pointlessly abusive, and Bacon addresses this in the article.

Rating websites should go a step further and verify that a patient actually did consult with the doctor (i.e. that they are not a friend or family member of the doctor who wants to put in a good word).  It may sound strange, but if these rating websites take some inspiration from Toptable (a website that offers deals on restaurant bookings and collects reviews), which only allows users to rate restaurants that they have recently booked, then they would be more robust.

Unfortunately, I found the search functionality on difficult to find anybody with, and I had some names and places.  A bit of tweaking, a bit of authority control and they would have a very useful resource.

Ultimately I agree that a poor clinician-patient relationship can be very damaging to the patient’s health and a lack of feedback on professional practice very unhelpful to a clinician’s development.

“For a minority of doctors to suggest that patients should somehow be prevented from benefiting from the transparent, internet enabled feedback that has done so much to improve standards and quality in other industries is a throwback to a medical paternalism that most of us thought was long gone.”


4 Responses to “Rate your doctor”

  1. Worth looking in on NHS Blog Doctor to see a number of posts related to Neil Bacon (and links to many more). A not uncontroversial figure.

    I am a little unconvinced of the merits of anonymous feedback in this way. Seems like a recipe for snark of the highest order.

  2. I think I agree with you, Alan, that perhaps the best way of avoiding ‘snark’ is to remove the anonymity of the people offering feedback. I am not sure how well that would jive with the ‘patient-clinician privilege’ as feedback should be a rightful option as well. There could be two layers, where the raters are known at the back end of the system (so that at least they can be aware of abusers), but what is visible to the viewers of the website may just be the person’s initials or first name (as they choose).

    Hmm, it looks like Neil Bacon has a bit of a history. While I was not impressed by iwantgreatcare, I see it as a work in progress. Perhaps when the NHS takes something like this on, it will incorporate better checks and balances (not to mention usability)?



  3. I have been harping for a while that patients have to take back control of control of the doctor-patient relationship, and it shows in the doctor ratings and reviews sites out there. Doctor need to do more to be more attentive and train their front office staff as well the importance of “customer service.” Hopefully the,, and others will flourish

  4. Mel.
    It has taken eight years to find a competent doctor in the nine years I’ve lived in Pueblo, Colorado. Indeed, those I saw BEFORE Dr. Tatsuyama (THE BEST, A REAL GEM!) committed a wide range of infractions from speaking so loudly with a door ajar next to the waiting area that my patient confidentiality was compromised. I was humiliated. My daughter has also been humiliated by their office. Moreover, one the PA’s at this office would make inappropriate comments, unrelated to any health issues, such as “Don’t forget your suitcase.” He also offered to provide my teen daughter with an OB-GYN exam (when my daughter asked for a refill on her birth control) rather than refer her to a female PA in the same office. Quite bizarre and makes him suspect (do you think?). Yet another doctor’s office used to make patients wait in the waiting area for 2 hours (I am serious). Yet another one insisted that changing my medication dosage was vital, despite the fact I’d been taking the same dosage for ten years. I complained about not FEELING RIGHT, but they insisted –as they always do — that they were right. They were wrong as I found after discovering Dr. Tatsuyama, a real gem, who changed my dosage to what is was before. Further, that same office invariably and wrongly coded the insurance, meaning I spent hours on the phone after receiving exorbitant bills, one after the other. That same office maintained they did nothing wrong. As before, they were proved wrong after several months, and after I’d spent approximately 10 hours on the phone between them and the insurance company. I have nothing else to do, right? Now they want to BILL ME FOR MY FAMILY’S MEDICAL RECORDS because we’re leaving them. Unheard of! Thank gawd I finally found Dr. Tatsuyama after 8 years, and I had no serious health issues or I’d have been doomed by all the others. But the worst experience I ever had was in Cave Junction, Oregon, where Sue Terrin (Terren, Terran?) at the Siskiyou Community Health Center reported me to social services falsely alleging that I’d said something really inappropriate on THREE separate occassions to my then-6-year-old daughter, in the waiting room. I was floored by the allegation as it was something I’d never dream of saying to ANY child or human, especially IN PUBLIC. I found out this Sue Terren (Terran? Terrin?) woman is “witchy” and that the center itself is ridden with issues, one reason many residents commute to the city of Grants Pass, about an hour away, rather than to Siskiyou…As a result of this woman, I lost my job in child protection, and was investigated by a child protection worker. My daughter was interrogated without my knowledge, and although the child protection worker said my daughter’s reports about me were very positive, I was still under investigation and they might take her away. (I provided well for her and we lived in the more prestigious area of town, if there is such a thing in a town in which the people are spooky and “hills have eyes”). Nevertheless, I have my daughter and have had her all along because I am a good mother and ALWAYS was. It’s no wonder then that I’ve learned to hate physician assistants especially and almost everyone else in the world because I was so deeply traumatized — my family almost ruined — by one revolting woman named Sue Terran (Terrin? Terren?) in the medical profession.

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