I wrote a fake online review for myself once. Go ahead. You can judge.
Here is the story:
It was years ago, back when public online reviewing of doctors was still in its infancy. I had moved my practice to a new location and while I had taken a ton of patients with me, I was still worried about building my patient panel further.
My move had been the result of wanting to get away from a certain political mess. In the process I had created an arch nemesis who desperately wanted me to fail.
I was going to win, by golly. I was going to be the best. I was going to stick it to the bastard…..
So I started watching my online reviews. Admittedly, it was partly out of paranoia. This fellow had already done some nasty things to me. It would not be beneath him to tank my online reputation. And so I would do a Google search for myself every week or two. I thought I was helping, doing something positive, keeping tabs, managing my online presence…
The vast majority of what was said was positive. Glowing, in fact.
Then one day, it wasn’t.
There was a negative review.
I figured out from the clues that it was left by a patient who was upset that they had had an extremely rare reaction to a flu shot. I don’t have control over those sorts of reactions. It is not a product quality issue or problem with technique. It was just bad luck. Truthfully, there was even question as to whether the reaction itself was faked. Objective testing came back inconclusive.
Meanwhile, my whole mood tanked for a few weeks. Someone didn’t like me?!?!!?! I thought about people searching online for my name and pulling up this review as the first one they saw. Hell, my own mother Google searches me. Being the most recent, it was first and people just were not leaving reviews online that often. It could stay there as the first result for MONTHS!
I stewed over it. Obsessed over it. I went back almost daily to check it out again. I could NOT get it out of my mind.
Finally, so I could sleep at night, I left myself a fake review that pushed that negative review down on the list. I felt better instantly. I had taken control of the situation.
Or so I thought.
The ethical question started to eat at me. It did not feel right, reviewing myself. Hell, I didn’t even vote for myself during elections for section chief because it felt too dirty. Fake reviews? Gah!
It was then that I realized the truth of these reviews: They are not fair. I cannot make everyone happy. Ever. Being regularly confronted with the negative was not good for my mental health.
So I stopped looking.
No more Google searches for myself. I told my mother to stop emailing me every time she found something negative. I have even more recently stopped paying attention to the Press-Ganey reviews that get presented at our monthly exec meetings.
“You are beating the system average for Likelihood To Recommend Practice but this one person here left a comment saying that you suck….”
It is not that I don’t care. I do. Very deeply, in fact. I want patients to have a good experience with me and with my office. The negative gets weighted too heavily, though. Why does one comment negate all of the thousands of positive experiences other patients have had? Can you take good care of patients without those surveys? How does this negative barrage affect physicians?
More on this tomorrow….