Numerous websites now offer patients the opportunity to give and read about the true inside scoop on the "best" and "worst" doctors. These doctor review websites, however, provide little substantive information that isn't available on the website of your state's medical board, favor patients who have an axe to grind (since satisfied patients are less likely to write reviews), and as one physician columnist has noted, are stunningly easy to manipulate. Consumer Reports, they're not.
So how does a social media-savvy patient search for a new primary care physician when his or her insurance changes? Many innovative practices have launched increasingly sophisticated websites that, in addition to containing basic information such as types of insurance plans accepted, operating hours, and biographies of the doctors and staff, include links to online health risk appraisals, interactive Facebook and Twitter pages. In a future post, I will discuss some of the ways that primary care physicians are using social media to attract new patients and encourage current patients to stay healthy.