The American Film Institute’s 100 greatest American movies of all time; People’s Sexiest Man Alive; Forbes’ World’s Most Powerful Celebrities list: It’s human nature to love lists. But when it comes to raking America’s top doctors, feathers can get ruffled. For one thing, as powerful as Jennifer Lopez or Oprah Winfrey may be, they certainly aren’t responsible for making life-and-death decisions. And, second, because the methodology used to rank physicians is predominantly subjective, assessing how “good” a doctor is calls into play many different factors that aren’t easily quantifiable. Here, we examine both peer-nominated and patient-nominated ranking and tell you what you need to know.
Explore this issue:November 2012
According to Jeffrey Segal, MD, founder and CEO of Medical Justice Services, a legal consulting firm for physicians in Greensboro, N.C., patients have always sought advice when selecting physicians. The difference now, he said, is that instead of solely asking family or friends for advice, people are increasingly turning to the Internet for guidance. “Prospective searchers qualify their doctors,” said Dr. Segal. “They rely heavily on advice from friends and family. But, second to that, they’re searching online for reviews. The world is changing, and doctors need to pay attention.” While he feels that patient-review sites may not hold as much sway as peer-review sites, “user-generated content is beginning to have a more prominent effect.” (For more on how patients use social media as a health resource, see “Cyber Connections” in ENT Today, October 2012, p. 22.)
By nature, both peer-generated and patient-generated reviews and rankings are subjective, but that doesn’t mean that a savvy otolaryngologist should discount them or their impact.