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We all know that many Yelp reviews are unfair to the businesses being “reviewed.” How many negative reviews of restaurants have you read that focused on the price, instead of the food itself or even the service?! It’s not as if the customers didn’t see the published prices when ordering, yet ordered anyway, enjoyed the meal, then gave a one star review because it was more than they wanted to spend or because they felt the servings were small. Yet, there are countless reviews about the food, about the service, about the cleanliness or lack thereof that are truly valuable.

It’s a new world where transparency in the form of public reviews can expose bad business practices of all sorts. Granted, not all reviews are accurate or fair. But, I’ll hazard those “bad reviews” in exchange for being saved from being taken advantage of. Thankfully, that now extends to the healthcare industry.

For far too long, medical practitioners have enjoyed the same unassailable, respected position in the community as the priest and preacher. In many instances, it is completely undeserved. I, my family, and the small community where I grew up suffered the negative impact of a doctor who ignored clear warning signs of severe illness (in my case, it was eclampsia) or wrote prescriptions for the new drugs the pharmaceutical reps were pushing (in my mother’s case, that was Dexedrine and Miltown). But, even though my mother always joked about how he’d failed the second grade, she took his diagnoses as gospel.

That can’t happen now.

But, what can happen is petulant,privileged doctors who’ve grown up always praised lashing out and exposing patients’ private information when their less-than-ideal treatment is exposed. These are supposed to be educated people who should know how to respond without violating HIPAA and revealing private details about any particular patient’s condition and treatment. Seriously, once that happens, even if the original complaint had no basis, would you really want to patronize that health professional? What’s to keep him/her from discussing your case at a cocktail party?

There’ve been growing pains with Yelp. There are plenty of people who exercise grudges with crappy reviews…and, there are providers who respond in an equally nasty and far more damaging way. But, at the end of the day, I’ll take the transparency of today’s exposes versus yesterday’s impenetrability into poor practices, malpractices, and mistreatments.

As Shakespeare wrote, “The lady (and man healthcare providers) doth protest too much, methinks.”

How many times have you heard someone say, “I’m going public with my story so no one else has to go through what I and my family have suffered.”?

We must advocate for ourselves and our family members and take control of our health! Publishing accurate reviews, negative and positive, extends our advocacy to the community at large.