Would You Waive Your Right to Rate Your Doctor?

Would You Waive Your Right to Rate Your Doctor?
Recently, on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation”, I heard an interview with Dr. Jeffrey Segal, founder of an organization called Medical Justice.  He was explaining why he and his organization want patients to waive some of their rights to offer feedback about their medical providers.

Dr. Segal does not like the many websites that offer people the ability to publish anonymous comments about doctors. He fears it can damage their hard-earned reputations. Therefore he wants patients to voluntarily waive their rights to publish such comments unless their medical provider has specifically approved them.

You can learn the details of Dr. Segal’s organization and their position here.

While I share Dr. Segal’s thoughts that comments posted on websites have the potential to harm doctors, I disagree with his solution. The reality is, any of us can be harmed by people posting anonymous comments on the Internet. It can happen anytime and we are largely powerless to stop it.  Yet I don’t see other industries asking their customers to waive their rights to publish their opinions. In fact, having your customers waive their rights will not stop abusive and harmful comments.

Not long ago I wrote an article about survey coaching. When a vendor or supplier suggests to a customer how they should rate them on a customer satisfaction survey, they’re coaching. The auto industry has been doing it for years and they’ve begun taking steps to eliminate it.  Because it yields bad information.

So if survey coaching provides no useful information, then consider the value of feedback that must be approved by the service provider who is being rated. How useful might this be to others who are looking for accurate information on that provider? Not very.

The best information about a customer experience is that which is given freely and without restrictions or guidance. When your customers can easily and conveniently tell you how you’re doing giving them what they want, then you have valuable information.

If you interfere with customer connecting with or communicating about their service providers, you will degrade the process. The outcome will be less valuable. If you want to improve how you are serving your customers, everything you do needs to promote persistent and transparent communications between customers, employees and management.

My suggestion to Dr. Segal and his group would be to focus on helping patients communicate directly to their doctors in a way that is effective. This means doctors and their entire organizations need to be open to hearing everything their patients have to say. This is not just about the technical quality of their services. This is about the entire patient experience.

Then they need to take this feedback and do something with it. Acknowledge it and use it to improve how they serve their patients. Then they’ll find they have no need to ask people to waive their rights.

What do you think? Would you waive your rights to comment on your healthcare provider? What would make it easier for you to communicate with your doctor?

The article was written by Kevin Stirtz