As more and more of our social and work lives take place online, it’s not surprising that our interactions with healthcare providers have started to move into the virtual realm, as well. Product, restaurant, and even doctor reviews are now taking center stage on the internet.
With new social hubs like the recently launched DiabetesMine Test Kitchen—a network where type I and type II diabetics can submit videos of product reviews—the amount of health and medical information available is staggering. But the question remains, how do you vet information that may not necessarily come from an M.D.?
The Benefits of Real-World Experience
For those living with chronic conditions—like the 26 million Americans who have diabetes—getting advice or just listening to stories from those facing the same disease can be helpful. In that sense, DiabetesMine offers a wealth of patient experiences in the form of short videos recorded at home.
Video reviews submitted to DiabetesMine must be vetted and approved by staff before they go live. Users are encouraged to submit video reviews of:
- Software and mobile health apps
- Insulin delivery devices
- Glucose measuring devices
- Diabetes carrying cases and accessories
- Food items, including glucose products for treating low blood sugar
- Other diabetes-relevant fitness, food, and lifestyle products
“People can learn from each other’s experiences with these targeted products, and discuss meaningful pro's and con’s of innovation challenges,” the company said in a press release.
Elsewhere on the internet, medical device and doctor review sites often take the form of lists.
For disease-specific advice, organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association have online hubs and tools to aid those living with Alzheimer’s as well as their caregivers. The American Cancer Society has a roundup of well-reviewed online networks for those living with cancer or those whose family and friends are going through the process, like WhatNext, Circle of Sharing, and I Can Cope Online.
While nothing should replace the advice of a doctor, these online hubs and review sites are more than just virtual proof that there is a community out in the world going through the same thing you are.
More People Relying on Online Doctor Reviews
A recent survey from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that patients are now frequently heading online to review and find doctors. Almost 20 percent of people surveyed said physicians' online ratings were very important to them, and 40 percent said that the doctors' actual websites were important.
And ratings matter: 27 percent avoided doctors with bad online ratings, while 35 percent picked their physicians based on good ratings, with nearly 60 percent reporting that they felt physician ratings sites were “somewhat important.”
But as with anything online, sometimes an opinion is just that: an opinion. Deciding what is valid falls to the user. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has useful advice for people evaluating health information on the internet. To ensure that you’re reading quality information, seek out sites with a clear operator and affiliated organization, sites that aren’t trying to sell you something directly, sites with a stated intended purpose, and if all else fails, fall back on a trusted .org, .edu, or .gov domain.
Sites like ZocDoc, Yahoo, Vitals, and Healthgrades are all well trafficked peer-review sites. While these doctor review sites are sure to become more important as the years go by, it’s important to remember that sometimes the best reviews come from in-person sources like your physicians as well as family and friends.