“Medical Justice planting glowing reviews on RateMDs.com”
These are some of the article headlines recently getting online hits and attention regarding “anonymous” patient ratings and reviews of doctors, especially plastic surgeons.
Personally I have always been skeptical about “anonymous online reviews.” Practically anyone can get online and say anything they want with no repercussions. Most often, the statements come from unhappy or disgruntled individuals or even competitors. This is not unique to cosmetic surgery. Restaurant reviews, car wash reviews, movie reviews, home contractor reviews, hotel reviews are amongst some of the more popular reviews online but pretty much anyone can say anything about anyone else online today and usually it’s the unhappy angry people that have the loudest online voice and presence since happy individuals often just go about their lives. This is what makes online rating sites tricky to navigate. For example, for that one negative review, how many other unhappy patients were there who didn’t bother getting online to write a negative review? More importantly, for that one negative review, how many truly happy clients were there who didn’t bother getting online to write a positive review of their experience?
The reality is, no one can please everyone all the time. No restaurant, no matter how good, will have 100% positive reviews. So who do you trust? Who do you believe? How can you choose where to eat dinner tonight or get Botox tomorrow?
It’s an impossible question to answer with certainty. But an intelligent, stable, reasonable individual will do his or her own research and then put the pieces of the puzzle together to form their own rational opinion. Ultimately, until you have tried it, you cannot be certain if the reviews were accurate or not.
Recently, my patient coordinator told me a lady called to tell her that “did you know there is a negative review of Dr. Naderi online?!“Apparently this one review was enough of a reason for her to cancel her appointment with me. In such cases, I am perfectly happy for such individuals to choose other plastic surgeons because such an individual is likely going to be impossible to please or even reason with especially when she forms an opinion simply based on one online review!
There are those patients or competitors who take it upon themselves to write negative reviews based on their own perception or motivations. For example, I have seen patients in the past who have pretty nice noses and but insist in wanting a frivolous nose job. I take an hour of my time to educate and inform them and try to talk them out of an unnecessary elective surgery with its numerous risks. But occasionally rather than showing respect and gratefulness for my honesty, they write online reviews saying things like “he could not see what my problem was, etc.” Or I have had a patient write a negative review on Yelp because of my fees: She expected me, Board Certified Facial Plastic Surgeon and a National Clinical Instructor for Allergan, who teaches other doctors how to teach Botox, to charge the same amount as a nurse injector in a local spa or a family doctor doing Botox injections on the side!?
So what has happened is a few companies have popped up recently offering “online reputation management.” One of these companies is Medical Justice. These companies claim that they take actual happy patient positive reviews and post them on various online rating sites. The ethics of this approach has come into question because its impossible to tell if these reviews are from actual patients or fictitious ones. The fact is, a review online is not very useful. Certainly even a horrible plastic surgeon can find a handful of happy patients to give him positive reviews, either anonymously or even in video testimonials. And even the best cosmetic surgeon will have a few unhappy patients who will volunteer negative reviews either anonymously or even go as far as dedicating their lives to destroying a good surgeon’s reputation by setting up blogs and websites, etc.
The best approach is, do your homework, ask around and then go see for yourself but don’t be talked into anything invasive until you are certain you have found the best plastic surgeon for you.