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Sunday, June 10, 2018

Let’s Call A Spade A Spade! On The Face Of It This Is Misleading And Deceptive Conduct Isn’t It?

This appeared earlier today:

'Very poor': GP booking service HealthEngine sanitises patient reviews

By Esther Han
10 June 2018 — 12:00am

In numbers

·         "Positive customer feedback" of GPs on HealthEngine's website. 47,900
·         Reviews that have been edited. 53%
·         Medical practices listed on the website that have reviews. 1840
Australia's largest online GP booking business HealthEngine has been caught dramatically altering negative patient reviews and publishing them as "positive customer feedback", potentially misleading users.
A Fairfax Media analysis of the 47,900 "positive" patient reviews of 1840 medical practices on HealthEngine found 53 per cent had been changed in some way. HealthEngine says it only publishes positive reviews.
After scrutinising both the original reviews and edited versions, Fairfax Media found numerous examples where relevant but negative points had been deleted to the point that what was published no longer reflected the patient's opinion.
One patient originally wrote: "The practice is good. All the doctors I've seen there are good apart from [doctor's name] ... she genuinely comes across like you are wasting her time". This was whittled to "The practice is good. All the doctors I've seen there are good" and posted on the clinic's webpage.
Another submitted: "I will use this practice if I have no other option. Receptionist was lovely but the wait and then the doctor checking text messages and not seeming connected with us was disappointing". This was published as "Receptionist was lovely".
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said selectively editing reviews could mislead customers, especially if the total body of reviews doesn't reflect the writers' opinions. An ACCC spokesman said it couldn't comment on a specific business.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) said a person who advertises a regulated health service or business in a way that is "false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to be misleading or deceptive" is in breach of the law. They also couldn't comment on HealthEngine's practices.
The start-up company's conduct is worthy of scrutiny as it is forging a digital path for the healthcare sector that's largely been reluctant to be compared and rated by health consumers.
Lots more here:
Reading through the examples captured this is just fraud, pure and simple, as far as I can tell. It’s really sad that this is happening and the site has just blown its credibility and become yet another example of why one has to be so careful to check out carefully what you see on-line.
Does anyone have a believable explanation as to why this would happen, other than just greed (and maybe stupidity)?
Another possible blow to the credibility of Digital Health maybe? I am not sure but doubt it, but surely a serious blow to the commercial backers who I suspect will be furious!
I also suspect the Financial Services Royal Commission would point out this sort of behaviour falls far below community expectations!
All rather a pity I reckon, assuming the report is true, which I have no reason to doubt..
David.

Update - 9:57 Mon 11, 2018

HealthEngine have just tweeted that their practice recognition system was well intentioned but didn't quite work out - to paraphrase the tweet.

Feature withdrawn and full review underway.

D.

 

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Health Engine: The Australian Theranos?

Anonymous said...

Wonder if the practices get any say in how comments are amended or not even posted?

This practice of shying away from negative feedback is certainly against the grain of current marketing trends. Organisations are embracing both positive and negative comments in a belief it demonstrates openness and transparency, leading to consumer trust.

The ADHA does not practice this, as is evident in everything they publish. Perhaps the spade in question is simply following the standard set by ADHA and is following suit with shovel and sxxt.

Anonymous said...

"HealthEngine says it only publishes positive reviews." Looks like a culture set and promoted by ADHA who only talk about benefits.

ADHA and the government is destroying trust in the health care business. With a bit of luck it will all come back to bite them in the bum.

Dr David G More MB PhD said...

Note post has been updated with extra information from 10am 11/6/2018.

David

Bruce Farnell said...

David, misleading and deceptive is correct.

If they are going to accept reviews then negative reviews are to be expected. After all, reviews are just opinions and much like certain orifices (which will remain unnamed) - everyone has one.

I am not against moderation of reviews but they either need to be accepted without amendment or rejected outright. Amending reviews to meet some unknown editorial criteria without clearly identifying the changes is dishonest at best and I would question the integrity of the organisation doing this. It is much better to list a reviewer and their rejected review as "failed to meet editorial standards/criteria" (ie. identifies individuals, cannot be substantiated etc.)

However, rejecting a review purely on the basis that it is negative is entirely the wrong thing to do. Negative reviews can be very valuable to an organisation. They can identify opportunities for service improvement. Also, the way in which an organisation deals with negative reviews can give a great deal of insight into the values of that organisation. Depending on how they are handled, negative reviews can be positive.

If the review process cannot be handled with integrity, then they should not have reviews at all.