Tag Archives: rating

Who's rating doctors on RateMDs? The invisible hand of 'reputation management'

This is an excerpt from Second Opinion, a weekly roundup of eclectic and under-the-radar health and medical science news emailed to subscribers every Saturday morning. If you haven't subscribed yet, you can do that by clicking here.

Did that doctor pay to hide some bad reviews on RateMDs, the online physician rating system? You wouldn't know.

Nor would you know if a doctor hired a reputation management service to boost the volume of positive reviews.

Online reputation management is an emerging industry with companies offering a variety of services to professionals who find themselves ranked on rating sites with no ability to opt out and with no control over the anonymous comments that can affect their reputation.

I feel this is akin to  cyberbullying .– Dr. Sukhbir  Singh, gynecologist, The Ottawa Hospital

The fact that those reputation management tools exist came as a shock to Dr. Sukhbir Singh, a gynecologist at The Ottawa Hospital.

Singh was already grappling with a negative review posted on his RateMDs page — a posting he discovered last weekend after an anonymous person claimed he had harmed them with a procedure that he doesn't do.

He quickly responded on the site, advising the person to speak to the hospital about their concerns,

Then, just as suddenly, the posting vanished.

"This is crazy. None of this makes sense to me," he said. "I feel this is akin to cyberbullying."

In the middle of all of that a sales representative from RateMDs contacted him offering "reputation management tools" for a fee. The service includes the ability to keep up to three comments hidden from public view.

"That just made me sick to my stomach," he said. "It doesn't seem that in a public health-care system that I should be marketing myself, that I should be protecting my reputation and paying an independent private company to do that work."

RateMDs offers doctors two special plans to enhance their presence on the site. The "Promoted" package costs $ 179 US per month and includes banner ads that will appear on competing doctor's pages.

RateMDs online physician rating site sells advertising packages to doctors which allows them to pay a fee and hide some unfavourable comments. (Daniel Rofusz/CBC News)

And for $ 359 US per month the doctor can buy the "Promoted plus" option. Both packages allow doctors to hide up to three unfavourable comments — a feature called "Ratings Manager."

But if a doctor stops paying, those unfavourable ratings will reappear.

"The reviews a provider designates with the Ratings Manager are not permanently removed and their numerical scores remain as part of the calculation of a provider's overall rating," said Chris Goodridge, chief investment officer of VerticalScope Inc., the parent company of Toronto-based RateMDs. (Torstar Corp, publisher of the Toronto Star, purchased a 56 per cent ownership in VerticalScope in 2015.)

"If a user unsubscribes from the Promoted or Promoted Plus plans, he or she will no longer receive the benefits associated with that subscription," Goodridge said via email. 

"You're held a little bit to ransom because the second you stop paying that $ 200 per month, those hidden reviews come back online," said Ryan Forman, who runs a company called GlowingMDs that helps doctors manage their RateMDs profiles.

Reclaiming reputations

Forman's company advertises its service to doctors with the line: "Reclaim your reputation."

For a monthly fee of $ 229 plus HST the company provides a ratings template that doctors offer to patients to complete after an appointment.

"We then take all of those reviews, good or bad, from the doctor, and we then post it to RateMDs in effect on the doctor's behalf."

A reputation management company advertises service to physicians to boost positive patient testimonials on RateMDs online doctor rating site. (Daniel Rofusz/CBC News)

"We're not able to remove any negative reviews but what we can do is post legitimate reviews that come through the doctor and hopefully improve their RateMDs profile," said Forman.

Over at RateMDs, Goodridge said he knows that companies are selling reputation management services that target the online site.

"We're certainly aware that there are a number of companies that support health care providers in soliciting patient reviews and in assisting with posting those reviews," wrote Goodridge, adding that RateMDs has a system to disallow testimonials from suspicious sources.  

"RateMDs.com utilizes a variety of proprietary methods to identify and remove programmatically-generated reviews or reviews originating from suspicious sources."

Software circumvents filters

But Forman said RateMDs filters have not prevented his company from posting multiple patient testimonials for a single doctor.

"We have had experience where they have picked up where we are putting more than one review for a doctor from the same location but the truth is our software circumvents that," said Forman, adding he simply tweaks his software to get around the RateMDs filters.

So could anyone get the software and start posting whatever they wanted as many times as they wanted?

"Yes, I think if they were tech-savvy they probably could," Forman said." It's not software that we developed, it's software that's out there on the internet so, yeah, they could definitely do it on their own."

RateMDs is a free and open forum. That means anyone can say anything about any doctor. Just write a comment, click on each of the four rating stars and hit "Rate this doctor." The site does not ask for a name, email address or phone number.

The doctor has no control over whether he or she appears on the site and there is no way to remove their page once it's been posted.

A study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that more than half of Canada's physicians have been rated on the site.

"Overall, physicians are rated positively," said study author Dr. Jessica Lui, a clinical investigator at the University of Toronto. "We did find there were differences in the likelihood of receiving a positive rating depending on what type of medicine you practiced."

Misconduct decisions not visible 

But how useful are those ratings for patients especially if there are ways for doctors to boost their positive ratings?

And right now RateMDs does not post any warnings about physicians who have been disciplined by the medical regulatory colleges.

"If a provider has active or past disciplinary actions on their file they are not visible on their RateMDs.com profiles," Goodridge wrote.

The remedies do not entirely correspond to the challenge.– Chantal Bernier, privacy and cybersecurity counsel, Dentons Canada LLP

The result? Doctors who have committed professional misconduct including sexual abuse of patients can still have glowing reviews on RateMDs.

"Providing transparency on disciplinary actions is a feature we continue to pursue on behalf of our audience," wrote Goodridge. "At the moment, the limited availability of this data from the disparate colleges does not make this practical. RateMDs.com hopes to add this information in the near future by partnering with regulatory colleges if they are willing."

There is also little transparency when it comes to anonymous accusations posted on RateMDs. Several doctors told CBC News about bad experiences including malicious postings from disgruntled employees.

And when patients do post negative reviews, the doctors pointed out that they can't tell their side of the story without breaking patient confidentiality.

Forman started GlowingMDs after seeing some of those problems emerge in the medical clinics he manages.

"There's definitely a need for the service," Forman said. "Their hands are tied in terms of what they can say and do on RateMDs"

Thorny issues

Being rated without your consent can now happen to anyone. Doctors, lawyers, dog walkers — there is nothing preventing a company from setting up an online rating site and publishing anonymous reviews in any field — comments that will circulate on the internet forever.

"There is, I think, a very real issue that has, in a way, run away on us because we do not have the laws that specifically address these situations," said Chantal Bernier, former federal privacy commissioner, now a privacy and cybersecurity counsel at Dentons Canada LLP.

"The thorny issues it presents is the reconciliation between the right to information, the obligation of accountability on one side and privacy and reputation on the other."

Bernier said there is a need to examine the legislative tools that will be required to manage those competing ethical issues.

"Right now the remedies do not entirely correspond to the challenge."

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Health News

France's Macron fights his Trump-like approval rating by joining the fray: Don Murray

How to describe him? 

When he became president of France in May 2017, some started calling him the European Trudeau.

But Emmanuel Macron, while young and charismatic at 40, has more power, more ambition and probably more ego than the Canadian prime minister. Just consider the adjective he chose to describe his presidential style — Jupiterian, a reference to the Roman king of the gods. This, he said, meant he would stand above the political fray, giving few interviews, talking not to journalists but directly to the voters.

But Jupiter, almost 12 months after his election, has major troubles, most triggered by his style and his determination to change his country.

France has rolling national railway strikes that are creating chaos for millions of travellers, plus student strikes, strikes by government workers, and loud, widespread grumbling about many of Macron’s reforms.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, is greeted by Macron upon his arrival at the Elysée Palace in Paris on Monday. The two leaders are frequently compared, but Macron appears to be the more ambitious of the two. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

These include a loosening of the worker-friendly labour code, rammed through by decree, and a gutting of the French wealth tax, which, almost uniquely in the Western world, taxed not income but the capital people have, such as investments and houses. Very quickly he became known as “le président des riches.” And very quickly the polls showed his job approval rating descending to Donald Trump-like levels. After 100 days in office, only 36 per cent of the French liked the way he was doing his job.

Macron regarded that as a challenge. “If I don’t totally transform France,” he told French writer Emmanuel Carrère last October, “it’ll be worse than if I did nothing at all.” His goal, he said, was to get France working and investing again.

Charm and mistrust

His problem was that he had charmed a country but its people didn’t yet trust him.

The charm, or some of it, flowed from his personal story, and particularly the courting of his wife. The distrust has roots in his route to power.

His wife is Brigitte. She was once his high school drama teacher in the provincial city of Amiens. At the age of 17, he told her he loved her and would one day marry her. Twelve years later, after she divorced her first husband, Macron did marry her. Brigitte is 24 years older than the French president.

He says his wife is his best friend. They discuss everything. She worked as an unpaid adviser when he was a government minister. One of his first initiatives after becoming president was to try to create an office of “première dame,” or first lady, complete with a budget and advisers. When more than 300,000 people quickly signed a petition rejecting that idea, it was quietly dropped.

Macron relies on his wife, Brigitte, for advice on everything, including matters of state, and even floated the idea of creating an official role for her.(Christophe Petit Tesson/Reuters)

His job as a government minister brings us to his former boss, François Hollande, the last French president. It was Hollande who named Macron minister of the economy in 2014 (he had been a presidential adviser) and who saw him almost as a son. Hollande was stunned when Macron quit and said he was running for president, effectively blocking Hollande’s own path to re-election.

Hollande waited a year and then released his memoirs to coincide with the anniversary of Macron’s election. His criticism of his successor was savage. He, Hollande, as a socialist, had reduced inequalities in France; Macron was increasing them.

“There are people who believe there is only one star in the sky, their own,” Hollande wrote, and everyone understood who he meant, “and that they owe nothing to anyone.”

Macron is equally dismissive of his mentor. “I’m not made to lead in calm weather. My predecessor was. I’m made for storms.”

Reform Europe

And storms he has. In the midst of these he invited Justin Trudeau to Paris and organized a singular honour for him. On Monday, Trudeau became the first Canadian prime minister to address the French National Assembly.

But Macron then chose the same day to brutally upstage his guest. He went to the northeastern city of Strasbourg to give a fighting speech to the European Parliament. His theme was the dangers facing Europe.

He warned against “illiberalism” and the “authoritarian temptation.” These were scarcely veiled warnings to the illiberal governments of Poland and Hungary, both members of the European Union. Divisions over values, he said, were akin to “a European civil war.” In Europe, this speech garnered all the headlines.

For Macron sees his destiny as not only reforming France but all of Europe. He preaches a tighter, more federal EU with a unified defence policy and budget. He wants to squeeze Poland and Hungary to the sidelines.

On Thursday, he travelled to Berlin to push, once again, his reform ideas in talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

French state-owned railway company SNCF workers attend a demonstration against the French government’s reform plans in Paris on Thursday. The strike is one of several major problems for Macron as he tries to implement his reform agenda. (Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)

It was part of a week-long political and media offensive that saw him do two long and tough TV interviews, one lasting almost three hours in prime time. He also met with 350 voters one evening in the first of what he called “citizen consultations.” He said he would not be deflected from his goal of modernizing and slimming the French railways and civil service, and transforming the country’s complex and underfunded university system.

It seems to be working. His poll ratings have climbed from the Trump trough. Now 45 per cent of French voters approve of his presidency. And the railway unions are weakening as the public voices its dissatisfaction.

Jupiter has descended to join the fray, still convinced his reforms are essential, and clearly enjoying the clash of battle.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | World News

Top safety rating given to 13 new booster seats, only 1 rated 'not recommended'

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the vast majority of new booster seats released this year got top marks in terms of safety, and only one brand on the market today should be avoided.

The IIHS says 13 of 16 new brands of car booster seat earned the safety agency’s designation of “best bets,” which means they will provide good fit for typical four- to eight-year-olds in almost any car, van, or SUV.

The IIHS, a U.S. nonprofit organization funded by auto insurers, works to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes and associated injuries and property damage.

Seatbelts in cars are designed for adults, but they can cause harm in children, which is why safety authorities recommend booster seats once kids outgrow harness-based car seats. Children between the ages of four and eight are 45 per cent less likely to sustain injuries in crashes if they are in boosters than if they are using safety belts alone, the IIHS says.

IIHS has been rating boosters since 2008 on their ability to provide good lap and shoulder belt fit.

The agency says kids should ride in boosters until a vehicle safety belt fits correctly by itself. For some kids, that doesn’t happen until age 12 or so, the IIHS says.

The new best bets retail for between $ 40 and $ 250 US, and many of them are available in Canada too. They are listed here:

  • Chicco GoFit (backless)
  • Cosco Finale (highback)
  • Cosco Finale DX (highback)
  • Diono Monterey XT (backless mode)
  • Diono Monterey XT (highback mode)
  • Evenflo Spectrum (backless mode)
  • Evenflo Spectrum (highback mode)
  • Graco Wayz (backless mode)
  • Graco Wayz (highback mode)
  • Maxi-Cosi RodiFix (highback)
  • Nuna AACE (backless mode)
  • Nuna AACE (highback mode)
  • Peg-Perego Viaggio Shuttle (backless)

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a quality booster seat,” IIHS senior research engineer Jessica Jermakian said in a release. “Unlike more complicated harness-equipped restraints, a booster is a simple device that doesn’t require any special features to do its job.”

The models above join 105 that were already given the best bet rating, some of which can be bought for as little as $ 13 , such as the Harmony Youth Booster and the Diono Hip.

“Boosters need to elevate the child and guide the lap belt so that it lies flat on the upper thighs and not up against the tummy and position the shoulder belt so that it fits snugly across the middle of the shoulder,” Jeremakian said.

A complete list of all 118 models that are considered to be best bets by the IIHS can be found here, along with those given other ratings.

In addition to the top rated ones, three new models were given “check fit” designations, which means they could work for some children in some vehicles. They are:

  • Harmony Folding Travel Booster (highback)
  • Kiddy Cruiser 3 (highback)
  • Ride Safer Delighter Booster (backless)

Only one current seat — the Safety 1st Summit 65 — is rated “not recommended,” which means it doesn’t provide a good fit and should be avoided. The Safety 1st Summit 65 is sold in Canada at various retailers and online.

Four others that had been designated “not recommended” were discontinued earlier this year.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

CBC | Health News