The Yelpification of Healthcare (aka: can we be ok without a unicorn?)

There is a ton of talk on managing an online reputation and creating a digital footprint as a clinician. In fact, two of my favorite blogs, KevinMD and 33Charts have covered the topic extensively, regularly speak on the topic and even have a book on the subject. Being online, visible and satisfying the curiosity of patients and potential patients is crucial these days. Positive patient reviews are good.

Just like looking up your favorite restaurant, reading the reviews of tailors, local thrift stores, and gyms.

Healthcare reform and patient satisfaction surveys seek to improve communication and bedside manner. Patient-centered care. Quality. Focus on the needs of the patient. Partnering in health.

I think these are important. As a healthcare communicator, I think we should always look for ways to improve our message, get the right information out, and of course, put the patient first.

But, in my personal experience finding an amazing provider who has just the right bedside manner, great communication, follow up, went to the best medical school, non-offensive, friendly, etc, etc, is almost like finding a unicorn. Nearly impossible.

I’ve had awkward doctors. I’ve had non-chatty doctors. I’ve had brilliant doctors. I have had doctors who curse (my most favorite doctor ever and one who delivered my first child and cursed like a sailor!). I’ve had doctors who give it to me straight or weren’t really politically correct. I didn’t leave the office feeling like a million bucks.

But should I? Isn’t it our healthcare provider’s job to tell us like it is? Make recommendations that improve our health, even though the idea might be unpopular? (I’m looking at you, pregnant Kristi Bruno. . .lay off the bagels and cream cheese.)

I think patient reviews are important. I think word of mouth is great. I think cool and down to earth are amazing. But, I’d rather hear it straight and be the healthiest patient I can be. I don’t always need perfect bedside manner. Or perfectly PC. Or loved by everyone with glowing Yelp reviews.

I can live without the unicorn.

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