Yelp apparently began contacting business owners-who didn’t even know their businesses were on Yelp-and asked them for money to “promote their businesses on Yelp.” So what’s the harm in that? Well, apparently some business owners recently filed a class action lawsuit against Yelp. It seems that despite Yelp’s claim of bias-free, fair reviews, those businesses who paid Yelp were rewarded with positive reviews while their bad reviews “disappeared,”
With that little tidbit to kick things off, here is a list of why Medical Services do Not belong on Yelp:
1. Yelp may be hazardous for your health (part 1): The “Yelp Filter” may be based on profit, not fairness. Let’s say you search for a burger joint and end up choosing a not so good place because its reviews were skewed positive on Yelp, possibly because that business paid Yelp for advertising. Worst case scenario- you ate a crummy burger and never went back there again. Now, substitute “spine surgeon” for “burger joint.” Kind of scary, huh?
2. Yelp may be hazardous for your health (part 2): Anyone is qualified to review a burger joint. It either tastes good or it doesn’t. Not everyone, however, is qualified or willing to put in the complex reasoning to review a doctor. That is just a bit more involved. Let’s say you went to see a spine surgeon Dr. X. You waited over an hour in his waiting room, only to end up having him tell you something you didn’t want to hear. You’re mad, and go on Yelp and give Dr. X one star, calling him the worst doctor ever. Only thing is, Dr. X was late for your appointment because he was in the middle of a complex surgery in the hospital and couldn’t just walk out. Additionally, he happens to be the best trained, most skilled spine surgeon in town. Now another prospective patient looking for a spine surgeon for a serious medical condition sees your review on Dr. X, and ends up going to a less skilled surgeon. Reviewing a doctor and placing “One Star” next to their name because you waited in their waiting room longer than usual potentially puts the next “yelper” at risk!
3. Yelp reviews for Physicians are simply Not Necessary: Physicians in our state are currently reviewed by the following respected entities: state medical board, county medical society (produces “best doctor” lists), hospital review boards, medical specialty board, better business bureau, word of mouth, primary (family) physicians. If your doctor truly did something awful- complain to the medical board! Unlike Yelp, they will investigate him/her. You can also access the medical board website to check on any doctor or medical director for an office you are considering.
4. Doctors typically don’t get enough reviews to make them an accurate reflection of the doctor’s ability or skill. Unlike restaurants, movie theatres, retail stores, doctors don’t see 100s of “customers”
5. Unlike Restaurants or Oil change shops- Doctors cannot fairly defend themselves against many false claims. HIPPA is the patient privacy act that prevents doctors from disclosing facts pertaining to a patient’s condition or treatment, or posting before and after photos without permission. While you can go online and post any opinion that comes to your mind about Dr. X, Dr. X cannot defend himself by sharing any identifying facts related to your case. This can lead to baseless reviews hurting or destroying a doctor’s reputation or practice that may have taken him decades to build.
So what does this mean for you? Are we saying don’t read Yelp reviews or post yelp reviews on doctors? No, that is your decision. But we recommend you think very carefully before making medical care related decisions or choosing a doctor based on the reviews of others on Yelp. That medical spa with a 5 start rating on Yelp just may have a medical director whose license has been sanctioned. Twice.
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