web review of doctors
February 6, 2008 6:11 PM   Subscribe

I am planning a website to review medical practitioners for consumers ie: doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. Being a complete novice in all things web. I decided to learn wordpress and have so far learned the basics.

I am starting to get frustrated with the size of the project that I am undertaking. I would like it to be similar to Angie's list . Can this be done in Wordpress or would I have to use a more traditional web authoring program or do I have to have a professional programmer do it. It has a rather complicated database to collect individual reviews and come out with a report card for each subject. Also since it is quite subjective in regards to reviewing doctors, maybe someone could suggest some questions that I could ask on a form.
posted by aisleofview to Computers & Internet (17 answers total)
If I were you, I would very definitely consult an attorney before setting up a website that could damage someone's professional reputation.
posted by moxiedoll at 6:46 PM on February 6, 2008

"I am planning a website to review medical practitioners for consumers..."

There is a solid reason why these databases don't exist already. Lawyers.
posted by 517 at 6:48 PM on February 6, 2008

It definitely sounds a little too complex for Wordpress, although it can always be extended by a developer adding features/plugins. And, derail, but it sounds like a legal nightmare. So, yes, you need a web developer, but I think you need a lawyer too.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:54 PM on February 6, 2008

Should've previewed.

But, re-derail, how can Angie's List do it for plumbers and carpenters without running into the same kind of problems?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:56 PM on February 6, 2008

Should you decide to go ahead and get sued, you can do this with WordPress and some plugins. It is not the most sophisticated solution, but it has two advantages. One, it is low-tech as you've already said you can use WordPress. Two, should your site need to grow up one day, your data will be in a format that can be imported into a custom CMS for you at a later date.

First of all, I'd create a category for each state because that is going to be your broadest level of classification.

You would then create entries by with the doctor's name in the title. This is important because it's what WP displays for search results.

You'd want to tag each doctor by speciality or specialities. Then people can look up by speciality, which is handy.

You could use the star ratings plugin to assign each one an overall rating from 1 - 5.

You could use a FormSpring form to create a submission form and then use the submitted information to create new entries.

That's the lowest tech, no custom programming way I can come up with to do it.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:00 PM on February 6, 2008

I agree, you can and should. Wordpress and some plug-ins. Be sure to get a pro to get the site up, maybe find a good graphic designer to do some graphics, you don't just want a stethoscope shaped into a question mark. And do not tell me you didn't think of that this morning when you were telling this idea to your friend at the coffee shop, and they rolled their eyes.

tagging is important, it will increase your page views and give you a heads up on popularity and give you something to track back to for readers at the homepage. I don't have to tell you to steal tons from Gawker Media (especially consumerist). You want to do a big marketing launch, let the AMA take notice, let them talk to the press and answer your phone and e-mail when the press starts calling. What does that mean? You need a really good marketing plan, maybe you can be cunning and reach out to health non-profits and advocacy groups. You'll have to really think about how to pull the private sector in; think about pharma. Ugh, I am telling you way too much. Why I am in alumni relations and not at some marketing company, I will never understand. Hiring?
posted by parmanparman at 7:13 PM on February 6, 2008

Response by poster: I guess I should have put in the question that I am a little aware of the legal ramifications, I have read that they are only opinions expressed by consumers 9patients) and I am just posting. I read about something similar recently. It's possible that I could be tied up legally for a time, but it would be worth it. I am motivated to make this happen.
posted by aisleofview at 7:13 PM on February 6, 2008

IANYL, and I don't even know what state you're in, and I haven't thought about libel since I was in school. That said, one person's "just posting consumer's opinions" is another person's "publishing defamatory statements of fact without regard for truth or falsity, causing damage to professional reputation as a result of which the plaintiff has sustained monetary damages in the amount of one zillion dollars," dig? Seriously, you need to consult with an attorney.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:21 PM on February 6, 2008

And also, one person's "just posting consumer's opinions" is another's "allowing anyone to pretend to be just a consumer and post anything they want" -- how do you know it's really a consumer, not a rival doctor/healthcare company?

One way Angie's list might be ahead of the game, to try and answer my own question, is that it's a paid subscription service. So a Holdenizing doctor couldn't just sign up as "Patient John Smith" and slag off their competition, they'd have to have a credit card in the name "John Smith" to do so.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 7:32 PM on February 6, 2008

There is a solid reason why these databases don't exist already.

Here's one.
posted by red_lotus at 8:03 PM on February 6, 2008

Well, Angie's List does get into trouble with some of these issues. And often has to put up money and lawyers to defend itself from lawsuits.

Also, because Angie's List is a for-profit company, it has been accused of being open to the influence of contractors who purchase advertising from them. (They sell memberships to homeowners and advertising to contractors/businesses.) They have also been accused of filtering reviews and rejecting negative reports in order to avoid problems with contractors.

They aren't a Consumer Reports-like trusted source.
posted by jeanmari at 8:41 PM on February 6, 2008

Wordpress really doesn't seem like the ideal CMS for this sort of site. RateMDs.com (linked above) uses Drupal, which would probably be a lot better for that sort of site (as would many others). RateMDs, doesn't seem very well done, but it is kind of similar to RateMyProfessors.com (in fact it looks a lot like that site used to look). You could spend some time looking at that and other ratings sites (including Angie's List) to see how they handle this so that you can get a better idea of what you want and then find a CMS to fit that.
posted by ssg at 9:17 PM on February 6, 2008

I agree that WP isn't ideal, but it is for all intents and purposes a no tech solution.

To people who don't deal with data and CMS every day, Drupal has a steep learning curve.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:57 PM on February 6, 2008

WordPress would be a terrible solution for this. Yeah, you could force in extra metadata (for the reviewer's name, the location, etc.) and cope with poor searching, but it'd be cumbersome, offer an inferior user experience, and eventually result in lots of data being stuck in an awkward format.

(Unless you have money to burn or lawyers on tap, don't touch this idea. Find something that isn't asking to be sued/spammed)
posted by malevolent at 11:30 PM on February 6, 2008

The "Angie's List does get into trouble" link above turns out to be exactly the opposite.

The plaintiff sued the people who made the comments, and says "he'd like to sue Angie's List but that his attorney tells him it's protected."
posted by AmbroseChapel at 2:52 PM on February 7, 2008

Yes, AmbroseChapel, but Angie's List has to pay their attorneys to keep them out of trouble and defend them against claims. So, it is an added expense for someone in that type of business.
posted by jeanmari at 6:25 AM on February 8, 2008

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