Dr. Derm is not only a successful dermatologist, but he is also very internet savvy. He tinkers with his own website, he has great search engine optimization, and he finds that many patients come to his office because of his quality of care as well as his strong internet presence. In fact, he spends 10% of his annual gross earnings on marketing, much of which is internet based. He often finds himself telling his peers how wonderful internet marketing is; that is, until one day, when he finds out that a disgruntled patient has slandered his reputation on the internet.
This patient not only accused him of poor medical practice, but also videotaped his staff drinking vodka in their nurse’s lounge. The videotape and comments have been placed on YouTube by the vindictive patient. The video has gone viral and has been seen by thousands.
Dr. Derm is concerned that this malicious act may ruin his career. The wonders of the internet now have become the curse of the internet. What can he do?
Unfortunately, because of privacy laws, when an anonymous patient places a scathing review on a website (for examples, Yelp and RateMDs.com), a physician has little recourse. Many physician review sites are as likely to misinform as they are to inform. If a patient complains, on-line, that his surgical excision opened only two days after dermatologic surgery, there is no way for anybody to know whether or not the patient has performed strenuous exercise. Equally unfortunately, the reviewers of these sites are sometimes not even patients. There are known instances of dentists being accused online, by their competitors, of being child molesters. Similarly, laudatory online comments can be written by the physician himself. The system often lacks credibility.