Photo courtesy of Lisa Brewster
Many of us have experienced first hand just how frustrating it can be to find a good doctor or specialist. Though there are many excellent doctors out there – and I would hope most have the best intentions – some of us have had the experience of being misdiagnosed, rushed through an appointment, or treated by someone who frankly didn’t know what they were talking about.
To many, the solution is checking the internet to find a highly rated doctor. But to be honest, there are many things about this trend that concern me. Granted, each website has a different way of doing things, so not all fall into all these traps, but that being said here are some concerns:
- One negative comment can ruin a doctor’s reputation online. A doctor may have 24 good ratings, but what if one comment says,"This doctor gave me a completely inappropriate medication and I nearly died." Would you go to that doctor? Now what if the comment was from a disgruntled patient just out to ruin the doctor’s reputation?
- Doctors cannot properly respond. Should a doctor be innocent unless proven guilty? Should people have a chance to defend themselves? Some of these sites allow doctors to respond, but unfortunately doctors are bound to confidentiality – they simply cannot get into an argument with a patient online. In my opinion, that leaves a doctor at an unfair disadvantage.
- Not enough opinions? Often you’ll see a rating for a doctor based on only a handful of ratings. And who do you think is more likely to leave a rating?
- There are times when doctors need to tell us things we don’t want to hear. And though I’m all for empowering patients, I also believe doctors need to be free to say the things they need to say, right or wrong. There are times when those things may bother us, but we still need to respect the doctor’s freedom to do their job.
- Are doctors being rating on things that are really important? What if a doctor has poor people skills, but she treats more people more successfully than any other doctor in the world? Are both those things given equal weight?
All these things may lead to a rating being skewed, usually in a negative way.
Let me re-emphasize – I want to see doctors and patients empowered to fight headache and migraine. I want to see good doctors rewarded, and I want to see other doctors encouraged to improve (and the rare criminal doctor removed from practice!). Doctors need to be accountable to their patients. But is this a fair way to do it? I don’t think so.
So how do you find a doctor? I still think there’s value in lists of "recommended doctors and specialists", especially when it comes to certain conditions. There is value in networking online to find good doctors. I also think you can ask doctors and specialists that you trust for ideas. And finally talk to friends and family, people you know and trust, for doctors and specialists that they have used.
What do you think? Am I way off? How have you found good doctors and specialists?