How to Write an Online Review of Your Doctor

When to Post and How to Post Responsibly

patient looking things up on the internet
John Rowley/Getty Images

Doctor review websites have become a popular resource for consumers wanting to find a new doctor. Like hotel and restaurant review sites, these consumer portals allow anyone to share an opinion, rate a practitioner, and view comments from others.

But how trustworthy are these sites and can you use them effectively to make an informed choice?

How to Use a Review Site

When using a review website, you will often need to read between the lines to ascertain the intent of the person posting a comment. While a completely negative, one-star rating or an overwhelmingly positive, five-star rating may color your opinion, a savvy reader will typically weigh the comments in their totality and turn to the most balanced ones to gain actual insight.

The same applies if you decide to post a comment. Even if you have a complaint that you need to air, readers will skip over it if seems you are only there to trash the doctor. Similarly, if your review is overly ebullient but offers few details, people will instinctively turn off, assuming that it was either fired off like a tweet or written by a friend.

Ultimately, the aim of a posting a comment is to offer a fair and balanced review that can help other users make a decision. Here are some tips that may help:

Choosing to Post or Not to Post

While it may be easy for you to shoot off a quick review of a new restaurant or hotel, you should give a second thought to whether it's a good idea to do the same for a doctor.

Remember that once your review is posted, others are going to use your comment to determine whether the doctor is qualified to treat them. That is a much bigger responsibility than helping someone to decide whether a restaurant is a hit or miss. As such, your comments should reflect that responsibility both in its tone and intent.

Before you review a doctor, identify your intentions. Are you posting a comment because:

  • You want to help others by providing genuine insights?
  • You're furious and feel the need to vent?
  • You're a serial poster who simply likes posting across all social platforms?
  • Your doctor or someone with the practice asked you to post a comment?

If your reason is anything but the first, you may want to think twice about posting.

Even if you are angry, venting your anger online is rarely productive. For this, there are far better outlets to share your complaints, such as contacting your local medical society, calling the state licensing board, or simply speaking with your doctor first. An online forum should never be the first place you go to complain.

On the other hand, if you do decide to post a positive response, do so with the intent of helping others. Avoid littering the cyberspace with short, non-specific praise. Unless you can offer something more than just generalized cheerleading, writing a note of thanks to your doctor may be a better option.

The same applies if someone from the doctor's office asks you to post. Unless it is something you do automatically, it is best to avoid such overtures. Doing so can unfairly weigh the balance of what is meant to be a wholly unbiased and unsolicited list of comments.

If You Decide to Post a Review

If you decide to post a review, it is often most helpful to do so by listing both pros and cons. Doing so cuts to the chase, allowing the reader to cull insights without having to plow their way through paragraph after paragraph of text.

Here are other suggestions that may help:

  • If listing pros and cons, bulleted lists can help readers get through the points faster.
  • Avoid generalities. If there is an incident or issue you want to share, be specific but concise. Avoid rambling or engaging in "he-said-she-said" accounts.
  • Offer readers insights into all aspects of the practice, not just one. Even if a receptionist was incredibly rude, it doesn't help anyone if that is all you write about.
  • Do not let your personal feelings demean a doctor's competency. Suggesting that people should avoid a doctor because you didn't like him or her really helps no one. Try to remove your personal feelings from the equation and remain as objective about the situation as possible.
  • Avoid using negative labels like "the worst," "horrid," and "the rudest" and find other ways to express your feelings.
  • Avoid using all caps or multiple exclamation points. People have learned to turn off to them even if there is valuable information to share.
  • Do not just rate a doctor and shoot out a few cursory words. If anything, give the reader one good reason why your point of view matters.

    Finally, remember that there is a thin line between negativity and defamation. In the same way that a hotel can lose customers if someone claims there are bed bugs, doctors can lose patients if there is any suggestion of impropriety of any sort. If a comment is posted to that effect, some doctors may sue.

    In 2015, Dr. Bahman Guyuron, a highly qualified plastic surgeon and former chairman of the department of plastic surgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, sued a woman for posting claims that her breathing and appearance were irrevocably damaged after undergoing two separate procedures by him.

    In his deposition, Guyuron asserted that the woman's "relentless, vindictive, and false accusations" compelled him to file the lawsuit. Two similar cases have made their way to court, both of which were awarded in favor of the doctors.

    While this shouldn't discourage you from posting, it does suggest that you do so responsibly, fairly, and with the full knowledge that, once you hit the "POST" button, it is out there permanently.

    Was this page helpful?