Health and Science

Rate your doctor, and watch them get better?

These hospitals are getting help from some "reputation doctors."

Hospitals and health systems are increasingly facing, and responding to, online ratings from patients who are already accustomed to dishing out praise or criticism in on the Web for restaurants, hotels and college professors. (Tweet This)

An article in The Washington Post on Tuesday highlights this rating trend, focusing on how comments posted on websites such as,, Vitals, Facebook and Twitter are getting attention from hospitals that assign employees to track the remarks.

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One of those trackers is Laura Markowski of the Carilion Clinic System in Roanoke, Virginia, who in recent months has been monitoring the online comments of more than 500 physicians, according to the Post. The remarks can include complaints about lengthy waits and rude receptionists.

"If a trend is established, it will be addressed," Markowski told the Post.

Other health systems, such as the renowned Cleveland Clinic, have launched their own doctor rating sites. At the four hospitals run by the University of Utah, for example, wait times dropped and patient satisfaction scores rose after the rating system was implemented.

At stake is not just reputation, but money.

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Over the past decade, patients have become increasingly responsible for personally footing the bill when they use medical services, in the form of co-payments and deductibles. That in turn has made people more cost-conscious about where they are getting care.

The Post also noted that the federal government in the past three years has considered "patient-satisfaction data when determining how much to reimburse hospitals for" patients on Medicare, the government-run health insurance system for senior citizens.

But not everyone is pleased with this ratings trend.

Doctors can have a hard time grasping how people they're treating turn around to complain online about things that have little if anything to do with their health outcome.

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"My wish is that less effort would go into trying to look good, and more effort in actually being better," former Obama administration health-care adviser Bob Kocher told the Post.

Read the full Post story here.