Finding a good doctor can be difficult. Our best bet until now probably was to ask our network of trust on first hand experiences or to rely on the recommendation of our physician. We also could spend a lot of time scanning many other resources. Since yesterday DocInsider also proposes: Why not leverage the wisdom of the crowd?

DocInsider is a portal for patients which hopes to bring more transparency into the health market. The platform has a huge database of 300,000 physicians and related professionals in Germany and provides a social layer upon it by injecting the experiences of patients.

The new portal provides intelligent search for doctors and other therapeuts. Rate the doctor or practitioner and review your personal experiences. Ask questions or provide answers. Take your health into your own hands … – from patients, for patients.

The search is sophisticated and provides various facets, they use an ontology of medical terms to show related terms and discover specialists, you can locate offices on Google Maps, the site is minimalistic but nicely executed.

The fundamental problem of DocInsider I see is the reliability of the reviews. I tend to get suspicious if one dentist gets four rave reviews on the very same day by members who only wrote one review overall whilst most dentists don’t have any review at all.

Each site which builds collective knlowledge by reviews of users has to deal with folks who have very high opinions about themselves (often coupled with rather low opinions about their competitors) and who split into multiple personalities to promote their point of view. If a site is popular the good citizens usually just outpower the spammers. Even if not and some propaganda slips through the costs of making an utterly wrong decision usually are low. The worst case scenario if you check out a restaurant based on exceptionally good reviews at Qype is a bad stomach.

But the costs of picking a poor brain surgeon are high. They are aware of this problem and they address it via blacklists, hints, corrective answers, etc. – but at the end of the day: how much of your health are you willing to bet on the reviews of people you don’t know?

screenshot docinsider

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This article originally was written for blognation Germany. Since blognation is gone I have reposted it here.