Recently, on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation”, I heard an interview
with Dr. Jeffrey Segal, founder of an organization called Medical
Justice. He was explaining why he and his organization want patients
to waive some of their rights to offer feedback about their medical
Dr. Segal does not like the many websites that offer people the
ability to publish anonymous comments about doctors. He fears it can
damage their hard earned reputations. Therefore he wants patients to
voluntarily waive their rights to publish such comments unless their
medical provider has specifically approved them.
You can learn the details of Dr. Segal’s organization and their position here.
While I share Dr. Segal’s thoughts that comments posted on websites have the potential to harm doctors, I disagree with
his solution. The reality is, any of us can be harmed by people posting
anonymous comments on the Internet. It can happen anytime and we are
largely powerless to stop it. Yet I don’t see other industries asking
their customers to waive their rights to publish their opinions. In
fact, having your customers waive their rights will not stop abusive
and harmful comments.
Not long ago I wrote an article
about survey coaching. When a vendor or supplier suggests to a customer
how they should rate them on a customer satisfaction survey, they’re
coaching. The auto industry has been doing it for years and they’ve
begun taking steps to eliminate it. Because it yields bad information.
So if survey coaching provides no useful information, then consider
the value of feedback that must be approved by the service provider who
is being rated. How useful might this be to others who are looking for
accurate information on that provider? Not very.
The best information about a customer experience is that which is
given freely and without restrictions or guidance. When your customers
can easily and conveniently tell you how you’re doing giving them what
they want, then you have valuable information.
If you interfere with customer connecting with or communicating
about their service providers, you will degrade the process. The
outcome will be less valuable. If you want to improve how you are
serving your customers, everything you do needs to promote persistent
and transparent communications between customers, employees and
My suggestion to Dr. Segal and his group would be to focus on
helping patients communicate directly to their doctors in a way that is
effective. This means doctors and their entire organizations need to be
open to hearing everything their patients have to say. This is not just
about the technical quality of their services. This is about the entire
Then they need to take this feedback and do something with it.
Acknowledge it and use it to improve how they serve their patients.
Then they’ll find they have no need to ask people to waive their rights.
What do you think? Would you waive your rights to comment on your
healthcare provider? What would make it easier for you to communicate
with your doctor?