Trashed on the Internet: What to Do Now

Shelly Reese

Disclosures

January 20, 2016

In This Article

Addressing the New Reality: Begrudging Acceptance

"When we first got into reviewing physicians in 2008, a lot of the medical organizations were offended," says Cheryl Reed, director of external communications for Angie's List. "They did not like the idea that some outfit that could review plumbers could also review physicians."

Countless other sites, including Yelp, RateMDs, Healthgrades, and Vitals, received a similarly chilly reception. Searching for a way to fight back, some doctors sought to gag patients by having them sign contracts in which they agreed not to review their physicians.

"If you go back to 2007 or 2008, I'd argue we had a contentious relationship with many of the sites," says Dr Jeffrey Segal, founder and CEO of Greensboro, North Carolina-based Medical Justice, which supplied the contracts to physician clients.

But times have changed. Dramatically.

Medical Justice, which once sought to quash reviews, now offers a medical reputation management program called eMerit that encourages patients to post reviews at the point of service. The company's current strategy focuses on drowning out the complaints of a disgruntled few with the praise of a satisfied majority. "We've done a 180," says Dr Segal. "I think everybody's evolved."

Similarly, many physicians have begun taking advantage of RateMDs' free "Doctor Profile" service to promote their practices online by posting photos of themselves and updating information about their practices. The number of physicians using the service has roughly doubled each month since RateMDs began offering it a year ago, says site director Rajan Chopra.

"I don't want to say that doctors as a whole have become comfortable with online reviews," says Evan Marks, chief strategy officer for Healthgrades. "That would be an overstatement. But there is a recognition that this is a fait accompli. The genie cannot go back in the bottle, and the smart doctors are using it to their advantage."

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