I wrote some time ago about some doctors conditioning treatment on patients promising not to post online reviews of the doctor. This is directed at websites like Angie’s List, RateMD’s.com, and the like. The way this works is that the physician will not see the patient unless the patient executes an agreement not to post reviews of this type. Today the Washington Post writes about these kinds of requirements becoming more prevalent in the Washington, D.C. metro area.
These kinds of sites exist for lawyers too. I understand that most professionals don’t want to be at the mercy of a layperson who may not understand the realities we work under. Plus, most of these services have no filter, so there may be content posted that is inflammatory, defamatory, or outright false. The crackpot with an ax to grind has the same ability to post that a legitimate consumer does.
The problem here is that all professionals, including doctors and lawyers, are in a customer service industry. It’s true that a layperson may not really have the knowledge to assess the quality of medical or legal services. On the other hand, it is easy for the average person to judge whether the staff is friendly or rude, wait times are unreasonable, if phone calls are returned promptly, or if facilities are clean and well-kept.