Author: Rosemary Buckle, M.D.
If you’re like most patients in 2015, you’ve probably Googled your specialist well before you ever called their office. Websites like Vitals, Healthgrades, and UCompareHealthCare have made it easy for patients to share their experiences and, in turn, discover the truth about the specialist(s) they’re interested in seeing.
Recent healthcare fraud cases, however, have cast a pall over these review websites, changing how patients consider the “truths” they can find through a quick Google search. Already, in March 2015, the damage wrought by healthcare fraud cases is in the millions of dollars. Patients are left wondering, does a five-star review really mean a physician can be trusted? Is two-stars a valid indicator of mediocrity (or worse)?
5-Star Surgeons Indicted for Healthcare Fraud
In a recent article published by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Eeric Truumees, MD, reports on the lack of transparency and reliability of healthcare review websites:
Three doctors facing criminal charges—two neurosurgeons and one orthopaedic surgeon—all had excellent ratings on multiple review sites at the time of their indictments. The orthopaedic surgeon had been convicted of healthcare fraud for multiple cases of faked surgery, yet received 4.5 out of 5 stars on the Healthgrades website. On the Vitals website, he not only won the compassionate doctor award but also twice won the patient’s choice award.
While not all patients are likely to see a physician solely based on their Healthgrades score, many patients are inclined to accept a high-rating on Healthgrades (and other such websites) as confirmation of a physician’s skill, work ethic, or trustworthiness. But, as Truumees suggests in his AAOS article, these websites don’t necessarily tell the whole story.
How Can Patients Have Confidence In Their Physicians?
There’s nothing wrong with turning to the internet in seeking out a specialist. However, patients would do well to talk to their primary care provider and other known and trusted medical professionals when looking for a specialist they can trust. Better yet – ask the specialist’s office for patient testimonials.
Schedule Your Appointment With a Houston Orthopedic Physician
To schedule your appointment with an orthopedic physician in downtown Houston, call Houston Institute for Sports Medicine and Orthopedics at (713) 756-5546. You can also schedule your appointment online.
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