Doctor and healthcare professional rating and review websites have become influential tools used by patients to make their healthcare decisions.
These bastions of patient feedback have also come under increased scrutiny from providers themselves, who often champion the notion that online ratings do not always reflect offline realities.
Ted and his team are taking on Goliaths by focusing on this very issue – improving rating and review transparency for patients and health care professionals
Garrett: Ted, thanks for sitting down with me and chatting about this important topic. Before we get started, can you tell us a little bit more about how you got the inspiration for CareDash and how CareDash is unique?
Ted: Awesome to chat – thanks for taking the time. CareDash came about after noticed a couple of troubling trends on healthcare review sites: healthcare providers serving certain segments of the U.S. population were underrepresented.
Second, many existing sites accepted financial compensation in exchange for removal of negative provider feedback. These practices have made access to information about the quality of provider care more difficult for large segments of Americans.
Garrett: Okay, that was a softball, Ted. Let me follow-up with a fastball right down the plate. A lot of healthcare professionals feel there’s a lot of “back room” deals happening where reviews can be manipulated if you “pay-up.” How would you respond to this?
Ted: I was a pretty bad baseball player at Swarthmore, just no sliders, please. First and foremost, at CareDash.com, we pride ourselves on the fact that we do not accept payments in exchange for the removal of negative reviews. We firmly believe that access to transparent provider information is essential for a patient to make an informed decision about their health care.
That said, we are responsive to review inquiries and modification requests (with appropriate justification) from both doctors and users. As a newer and more agile operation than other larger health care review sites, we are better able to handle these requests openly and effectively. We’ll work through the economics of not doing backroom deals.
On Yelp, if they refer you to a bad Indian restaurant you may trust them less and have a bad meal. Health care is too important.
Garrett: So tell me a little bit more about the process behind the scenes – to give us all transparency into how this all works – when a negative review is left or perhaps a patient that has already left a review wants to adjust their current one?
A request to modify a review triggers an internal review process, during which we evaluate the concerns raised. There are two cases which could result in the removal of the negative review:
- If requested, we can contact the reviewer on behalf of the doctor asking if they would like to re-consider the review. Other times, reviewers themselves ask to make modifications. For instance, we recently received this message from a user about a review they had written: “It was posted in the heat of emotions and my experience with him has improved since my latest appointment. Please remove this review in order to not unfairly castigate this doctor.” We can’t guarantee the writer of the review will want to engage though.
Garrett: Ted, appreciate the transparency on your process and certainly it looks like there’s little room to game the system, so to speak.
You should be aware that my focus (and life mission, you could say) is representing the consumer and improving their health care experience. In particular, I take great pride in using my vast experience in the digital sphere to help consumers overcome challenges in the realm of health care.
Garrett: You mention that your mission in life is representing the consumer, the patient, in this case, but what about those physicians and providers who still resent the notion of being rated and reviewed by their patients?
Ted: I respect that physicians and other health care providers have a tough job these days, and there may be many extenuating circumstances out of a doctor’s control, such as hospital or practice operations, which surface in reviews. However, we do not have the power to change how a consumer felt about their experience.
The best thing to do in these cases is refer some patients who have had a positive experience, as well as critically assess whether measures can be taken to improve the overall patient experience. It may also help to be open with patients if issues arise, such as a delay in your schedule or a recurring complication. Our experience is that people rarely complain about doctors that have very genuine, caring bedside manner.
Garrett: I’ve been saying that for years! The patient experience is just as important as the clinical outcome they receive. Any chance you could expand-upon the important part patient experience plays in online ratings and reviews versus clinical outcomes when it comes to reviews?
Ted: Patient experience is everything in reviews, especially bedside manner. I suspect that if a patient had a so-so medical outcome but met with a provider who took the time to explain things carefully, they would not leave a negative review. Conversely, if a patient had a fine outcome, but a rude doctor that would more than likely trigger a negative review.
We’ve conducted extensive CareDash review analysis and the top 5 words driving positive and negative reviews were related to attitude, timeliness, and the time the patient perceived the doctor allocated to them.
Garrett: Those are great insights Ted and echo much of what we’ve experience ourselves with our customers. How often do negative reviews that are disputed, get removed?
Ted: I’d say it’s small, 1 in 100. But a lot more get rejected, maybe 5-10% for being overly inflammatory or insulting.
Garrett: Let’s move on to a slightly different topic to end our conversation, but one that I often hear about. How often do “fake” negative reviews happen? Or in other words, reviews from users found to NOT be actual patients?
Ted: So far we don’t believe to be too many. We anticipate this will increase as more learn about our site. It’s hard to verify exactly whether someone saw the doctor or not due to HIPAA and other privacy regulations, but we do absolutely everything we can to authenticate CareDash reviews by having our staff read every review and also requesting users to validate emails.
Garrett: Ted, thanks for again for sitting down and doing this with me! Any final, parting shots for our readers out there?
Ted: If you have any questions about our CareDash or our review process, please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garrett: Like what Ted had to say? Check out his thoughts in our 2017 Healthcare and Medical Marketing Tips post.