A Plastic Surgeon Ain’t Nothin’ Like a Restaurant
Apologies to the late great Marvin Gaye for borrowing from his classic song “Ain’t Nothin’ Like The Real Thing,” but it’s important for the readers of Smart Beauty Guide to know that a plastic surgeon has nothing in common with a restaurant... or a hotel…or a dog walking service… or most anything else you find on consumer review sites like Yelp.
The same holds true for most medical review sites like Vitals.com, Rate MDs or Healthgrades. Why? There are several reasons, and none have to do with the physicians themselves. Let’s start with Yelp.
Ironically, Yelp started as a review site for doctors. As it grew, and consumer interest in the site took off, other categories were added. Now Yelp is a powerhouse and the first go-to resource for millions looking for restaurants, hotels, and a myriad of other things. Just walk by your favorite retail establishment and you’ll most likely see a decal on the window, “Yelp Reviewed”.
Of course, a hotel either has a good location and amenities - or not. A restaurant either has good food, an attentive staff and the right ambiance – or not. The cleaning service, picture framer, car dealership… they’re either good – or they’re not. Generally pretty cut-and-dry and usually black-and-white. But, nothing about the human body - its condition, age and variances - are of the black-and-white variety.
There are many criteria an informed patient uses to determine if an aesthetic surgeon is right for them. Sure, patient reviews have burgeoned in popularity and appear to now be a permanent part of the mix. But, factors like being certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties in Plastic Surgery, the doctor’s hospital affiliations, safety record, before-and-after pictures and the intangible “good feeling” you get during a consultation are what should really be the drivers. Yelp, unfortunately, can’t dig that deep. You often can’t tell if the doctor is board-certified in anything, let alone plastic surgery. In fact, in many cases it’s impossible to tell if that review has even been submitted by a real patient. But more on this later.
Let’s look at some of the medical review sites. They have a specialization that the more general sites do not. Take HealthGrades for example. They can tell you about a physician’s specialty, hospital affiliations, board certifications, years in practice, procedures performed and insurances taken – all valuable information.
But then we come to an area marked patient satisfaction. This is divided into two sections, the first dealing with the doctor’s office and staff and the second, the patient’s actual experience with the doctor.
But there’s one thing missing – if you sign up to participate in the site, you have to agree to the terms of a thorough user agreement. Well, almost thorough. Nowhere does it state you need to be an actual_ patient_ to give a review.
Maybe some of you remember the dark ages before the Internet when print and broadcast were our main channels of communication. If you didn’t agree with something printed in the paper, you submitted a letter to the editor that included your name, address and contact information. - a pretty good way of verifying that you were you.
But enter the Internet where everyone is a publisher with the tap of a keypad. Most sites just ask for an email address, which can be falsified and/or deleted as quickly as they were created. I once had a person leave me a scathing review on one of the sites mentioned above, rating me on my punctuality, staff, etc. He claimed that I was a horrible doctor and should have my license revoked. Pretty terrible, huh? Turns out he wasn’t a patient of mine at all. In fact, we’d never even met. He was offended by an article I wrote in CNN.com about a possible link between marijuana and gynecomastia and decided to attack me.
The moral of the story? Doctor review sites can give you valuable information about a cosmetic physician you are considering, but these sites are not infallible. Don’t take them as your only criteria for selecting someone to trust with your appearance. Instead, follow the steps we suggest here at Smart Beauty Guide.
Because knowledge really is a beautiful thing.