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Online Reviews - Do We Control Them?
Posted April 28, 2011, 10:05 a.m.


Like it or not, online review sites are here to stay. I, myself use them to find restaurants, summer camps, photographers, most recently a plumber who actually answered his phone after hours. I don't shop for my physicians online, but apparently many people do. Positive online reviews are close to the number one referral source for my practice. Unfortunately, online sites are also venues for really unhappy people and bad reviews are inevitable. If given the opportunity to wipe out all my bad write-ups, would I do it? My heart screams "YES!" Abolish anything negative, but my rational brain says "Wait a minute, everyone is entitled to an opinion." My heart screams "but my feelings are hurt! I am embarrassed that everyone can see this bad review!" I take a deep breath and rationalize. Negative reviews probably validate the good reviews. After all, no one is perfect. Having only good reviews is likely to smell of "doctoring," no pun intended. I am not alone in feeling hugely vulnerable to online reviews. This concern is so pervasive, legal industries are budgeoning to try to control online content. Below is my response to a blog on Realself.com (http://www.realself.com/blog/doctor-review-contracts) about just this issue as related to plastic surgeons.

Excerpted from my posting on Realself.com

I do not ask patients to sign a "review contract" and I have many reviews on line, most of them good, a few of them really awful. While I was initially quite upset by the bad reviews, I was pleasantly surprised to have 4 new patients the next week from that website hosting the bad postings. All 4 patients said "Found you on Yelp.com. Everyone loves you except for that crazy person." It was a good lesson for me. Most of my patients are smart enough to see the bad review for what it was, an outlier. True, I can't know how many prospective patients see those bad reviews and choose not to come in. My guess is though that they are probably not great patients for me anyway; I like my patients thoughtful and well informed.

Like it or not, the internet is a public forum and I don't expect to control what patients post there. I only hope to continue to provide the best care I can to patients and hope that the good reviews continue to out number the bad.

I would like to make one more comment though. I do greatly object to Yelp.com's "proprietary algorithm" whereby they assign "relative value" to Yelpers and "filter" reviews of people they don't consider to be "valuable Yelpers." This algorithm favors those who rant and rave as they gather "funny" votes, and filters those reviews by people who only Yelp occasionally. My 3 bad reviews stay up while 30, 5 star reviews are "filtered."

Have you had a good experience in the office? Happy with your results? Write it up online. Realself.com is a fabulous up and coming site for all things cosmetic. Yelp.com is Yelp.com; ethical website or not, people use it to find a plastic surgeon...go figure. Write, copy and paste to both sites. Help others searching for services find me, keep the good Karma circulating.

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