For all the debate about which Web sites have the best model for reliable reviews — paid or unpaid, anonymous or real name, Angie’s List or Yelp or TripAdvisor — one thing is certain: a robust ecosystem exists online for restaurant and hotel reviews that has changed those industries for the better.
So it is puzzling that there is no such authoritative collection of reviews for physicians, the highest-stakes choice of service provider that most people make.
Sure, various Web sites like HealthGrades and RateMDs have taken their shots, and Yelp and Angie’s List have made a go of it, too. But the listings are often sparse, with few contributors and little of substance.
What we have here is a demand and supply problem: many people want this information, and more consumers would trust it if the sites had more robust offerings. But not enough people take the time to review their doctors. And fixing that problem means figuring out why.
I’ll tell you why no one rates their doctor: People don’t chose their doctors with their checkbooks. Insurance companies, paid for via money deducted from paychecks, chose doctors. By separating the person paying for the the service (the patient) from the person providing the service (the doctor), medical care won’t get better. The insurance companies and patients have different criteria for determining who’s a better doctor, and as long as that distance remains, no matter who funds the doctors, be it insurance companies or the government, medical care will suffer.
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