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Home » Editor's Notebook, Featured

Letter to the Editor: 'Angie's List' View on Online Ratings

Submitted by on May 7, 2009 – 8:50 PM

75043599Dear Editor,

In a letter you recently published about online medical ratings, your headline cried: “There Has Got to Be a Better Way” for patients to share information on health care providers.

With a plethora of anonymous ratings sites available – in which anyone, including physicians themselves or a person with an axe to grind – can post a review, it’s important for consumers to have a trusted resource in which the information is verifiable and where both sides of the story can be shared.

Angie’s List goes to great lengths to hold members accountable and to provide the fairest, most reliable information possible. We alert physicians when they are first added to the List, and we offer them an opportunity to respond to each report, either directly to the patient or on our site.

We’ve been offering local consumer ratings for 14 years, and that experience gave us an advantage as we launched health care ratings last year. We sought advice from physicians, did a ton of research and applied our tried and true accountability structure to our health care ratings. In short, we don’t allow anonymous reviews; we hold both members and doctors accountable for truthfulness; we encourage physicians to contact patients who’ve reported about them; and we rigorously monitor for attempts to game our system.

After learning of efforts to have patients sign waivers that limit their free speech, we surveyed physicians rated on our List and found that more than 60 percent think public commentary waivers is a bad idea. Yet, nearly 20 percent said they would consider offering waivers.

In a simultaneous survey of our members, we found that 97 percent would walk away from doctors who wanted them to sign waivers.

Most physicians who oppose the ratings say patients can’t accurately judge or report on the level of care they receive. Others are concerned about anonymous reviews that lack accountability. To the first, we say, patients can and are giving great insights into the care they receive. To the second, we say, we’ve got that covered. 

Consumer ratings are only increasing, and most physicians are cautiously welcoming them. Done right, consumer ratings offer physicians great insight into how their patients feel about customer care. The ratings provide consumers with great insight into how their local doctors deliver service.

Physicians who strive to provide high quality care should embrace consumer ratings and work with ratings providers rather than try to shield themselves. When reliable information flows freely, everybody wins.

Angie Hicks
Founder of Angie’s List

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