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Doctors have nothing to fear from online rankings

Simon Sharwood
26 May 2011 2 minute readShare
My Business

Doctors don't like the sound of a new site, Whitecoat.com, that will let consumers rate the service they receive from medical practitioners. But the operator of womow.com.au, which already ranks medicos, says the profession has nothing to worry about.

The medical profession has little to fear from a new site that will allow consumers to rank the performance of healthcare specialists, says the operator of a site that already does so.

Most businesses know that consumers can now voice their opinions about their performance online.


Most learn to live with it.

But it appears the medical profession is not so happy with the idea. In an item on ABC Radio’s AM program today, The Australian Medical Association’s National Vice President Dr. Steve Hambleton expressed concerns about a soon-to-launch service from health insurance provider NIB called whitecoat.com.au.


In his interview with AM Hambleton said:

These websites can be quite intimidating when you try and put things on the web, and when you put things up it is very hard to take them down. Of course, it is an attempt to commoditise a very personal experience that patients and doctors have and we do see these things now and we are concerned that many of the web blogs that are put up are often negative.

But Fiona Adler, Founder of Word of Mouth on the Web (WOMOW) says that the medical profession has little to fear … because WOMOW has been ranking them for four years!

“We have almost 15,000 reviews for health and medical businesses already,” Adler told My Business. “More than 93% are positive. For the most part doctors and health pros don’t have to worry.”



Adler also said that medical professionals need to understand that online rankings aren’t judging professional competence, but help consumers to understand the experience they’ll enjoy as customers.

“Sometimes the health profession think they are a little bit above reproach,” she said. “They feel consumers are not capable of understanding the services they receive. But they are more than capable of discussing whether they were happy with the service and how the health professional communicated with them. That’s what people want to know.”

Adler also said she feels online ranking sites are good for medical practitioners.

“How else can you find a doctor when you move into a new neighbourhood?”

Whitecoat’s site repeatedly mentions its interest in transparency, but oddly Whitecoat users won’t be offered the chance to know how nib customers feel: one of the ten moderation guidelines the site abides by states:

We acknowledge criticism of nib’s products, services, policies and performance, but will not publish comments related to nib. The site is meant to be a tool to provide and share feedback about extras providers within Australia. Comments related to nib will be forwarded to an appropriate department for follow up (if appropriate).

Adler finds that odd.

“Womow has been reviewed on womow and most of it is positive. We are up for criticism like anyone else.”

How does your business deal with online commentary? Let us know in the Disqus field below.

Doctors have nothing to fear from online rankings
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Simon Sharwood

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