Prevention beats cure: What to do about online doctor rating Web sites

The World Wide Web has become the primary source of medical information for your patients. It’s available 24/7 and provides access to lots of information on healthcare topics—some of which is very high quality.

Key Point: Doctor rating sites are becoming more popular. It’s important to encourage open communication with patients so that they provide both compliments and criticisms to you and your staff on a regular basis. If you can fix a problem before it escalates, patients will be less likely to write a negative online review about your practice. If you do receive a legitimate negative review, look at it as a learning experience, and be sure to address any related issues for a better patient experience.

With so many doctors and patients using the Web, it’s only natural that lots of related changes are going to occur in the way that medicine is practiced. Some of these changes are very positive—for example, the growth of informed e-patients, who ask better questions (; and the development of the Health 2.0 movement, which uses technology to encourage participatory medicine and empowers patients.

As with everything else, the World Wide Web can be a mixed blessing—and one of the areas of potential concern is the mushrooming of doctor rating sites. After seeing the success of restaurant rating Web sites, it’s hardly surprising that entrepreneurs decided to exploit this area. The past few years have seen an explosion in the growth of...

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