There is a New York Times article this weekend about the Internet lacking useful sites with doctor reviews. Here.
The writer comes to the conclusion that more patients should write reviews of their doctors, so that more information is out there....
I don't know. I expect the people most motivated to go online and review their doctor aren't going to be the ones who are particularly happy. Of course, we already deal with that situation for everything else we review. Restaurants, etc. But at least with restaurants, we know whether we like the food or not. I think one problem with doctor reviews is that we don't usually know whether our doctors are actually practicing good medicine, following the right treatment plan, prescribing the best medications... everyone gets sick, everyone eventually dies of something. Maybe a doctor helped you, maybe a doctor hurt you, I don't think patients always know. Maybe the doctor did all the right things, and the outcome sucked. Maybe the doctor did all the wrong things and the problem went away on its own.
I think the other problem with doctor reviews is that the kinds of things patients can review are not the same things as you should really care about when it comes to your medical care. Wait time. Politeness of staff. Friendliness of doctor. Magazines in the office. Availability of appointments. Yes, all of these things are important, sort of. All else being equal, sure, I'd rather have a friendly doctor with competent staff, and not have to sit in the office for two hours waiting. But some of these things aren't necessarily in the doctor's control-- hiring staff, if part of a larger practice or a hospital, for instance-- and all of them are seriously secondary to the real value a doctor provides-- figuring out how to best treat your illness. If I'm the patient, I would rather have a brilliant, thorough, up-to-date clinician who's completely unpleasant than a very nice incompetent moron.
I should qualify that, I suppose. For something easy, most doctors are probably fine. But we don't come into the office with signs around our necks saying what's easy and what's hard, what's a common cold and what's a rare syndrome. And for complicated situations, you want the doctor who knows what he or she is doing, even if he's a jerk. Better if he's not a jerk. But I'd rather have to deal with a jerk than die of, say, Legionnaire's disease.
This isn't quite an argument against online doctor reviews. Sure, the more information, the better. And people should know not to trust everything they read.