You should not pick a surgeon based solely on web rankings. Many web review portals require the “Submitter” of a review to sign on and /or provide one’s email address. With all of the fear of “sharing” one’s email provided, this is often a turn off for potential submitters that are happy patients. Why take this risk? RealSelf goes beyond most review sites and they should be applauded for this. But, can RealSelf website be hacked? I hope not but between 2009 and 2018 there have been 2,546 healthcare data breaches.
Thus, solely relying upon a website review ranking can lead viewers to read the “squeaky” wheel reviews vs all potential patients reviews for any doctor. Not all happy patients want to disclose their experience nor do they have incentive to do so. Then there are unhappy patients that use the web to vent their frustration. They can make derogatory statements that may not be factual. For the physician, it is hard to reply “factually” as HIPAA laws prevent a physician from expressing “their” side of the interaction. So, the dissatisfied patient can say whatever they want, perhaps without a filter and the physician can only reply in a generic way. “We look forward to maintaining communications with our patients…” “Please call our office if you have any concerns…” etc, but the net is that… no direct reply to the negative posting can be provided by the clinician regarding the patient’s specific concern on the web. Wouldn’t you want to know if Dr. “X” really did this? HIPAA laws prevent this complete disclosure and your knowledge as you sift through many website review portals.
Back to Yelp and the original question. Beyond needing to be a member of Yelp in order to post, Yelp has taken posting to the next step. This company has algorithms that determine if your posting “qualifies” to be posted on a doctors Yelp website active reviews. The concept is that a “computer generated” filter determines if a positive or negative posting is considered in the doctor’s Yelp ranking. Sounds like a good idea but guess what, a human that is working or was hired by Yelp created these algorithms. Who pays this entity to write the algorithms for Yelp?
Yelp and all review portals provide a pathway for a patient to learn more and express their experiences. You can also seek out other pathways to help you with your process in selecting a doctor for your concerns. Connect with the Board Certified doctors, like Dr. Michael Kulick, in your area. The best pathway for you to find a doctor you are satisfied with is to seek a face to face consultation with a board certified doctor in your area.