Online reviews of healthcare providers can be a valuable resource for patients seeking care and/or looking to provide feedback. After recently seeing a doctor, I received an email prompt with a link to write a review about my physician. When I clicked the prompt, my full name associated with G-mail popped up, including my picture, the name of the doctor, their specialty, and the facility. Though I had raving reviews I would have loved to share, I questioned if I wanted all this information shared on the internet. This personal experience immediately made me want to caution our audience that some sites may automatically display a patient’s full name from their account profile when posting a healthcare review, leading to accidental disclosure.
Why might inadvertent disclosure online matter? Everything we write or have written about ourselves on the internet culminates in our “online brand”. If you are job searching now or in the future, your review of your provider can easily show up on a Google search. And, even if you are currently working, anyone in the workplace can search for you at any time. For instance, if a prospective employer searches ‘Jane Doe’ and sees ‘Jane Doe’ reviewed ‘Dr. Oncology at Oncology Hospital’ seeing Jane loved their chemotherapy center, Jane is revealing a lot of information in just one review.
The good thing is, there are ways to write reviews without disclosing. You just need to be mindful about it. If you plan to write an online review, keep these considerations in mind to protect your privacy:
1. Review Your Account Settings: Before posting a review, review your account settings on the review platform. Check if your full name is automatically associated with your account. If it is, consider adjusting your username or display name to protect your identity.
2. Create an Anonymous Username: If possible, create an anonymous username or handle to use when posting reviews. This will help ensure that your full name is not linked to your review and that your identity remains protected.
3. Be Cautious with Identifying Details: Even if you've adjusted your account settings or created an anonymous username, be mindful of the information you share in the review. Avoid mentioning specific medical details, names, dates, or any other information that could reveal your identity.
4. Consider Private Messaging/Calling: If you have specific feedback or questions for the oncologist or healthcare provider that may involve personal health information, consider using private messaging systems provided by the review platform or reaching out to the providers office directly.
For more information on building and protecting your online brand, visit https://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/looking-for-work/online-footprint/online-image.
If you have read this blog and are thinking you may have already left a review with your name on it or are worried about something else that may be online about your diagnosis, read about ways to help course-correct your online brand: https://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/looking-for-work/online-footprint/reputation-management.