Health News Digest

Dr. Hodad

November 20, 2017

Avoiding Dr. Hodad

By Michael D. Shaw

“Dr. Hodad” is an acronym/nickname introduced by Johns Hopkins surgeon Marty Makary, in his book Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care. Hodad stands for “Hands of Death and Destruction,” referring to a certain charming but vastly incompetent Ivy League-trained surgeon whom he met during his training.

“His patients absolutely worshipped him… They had no way of connecting their extended hospitalizations, excessive surgery time, or preventable complications with the bungling, amateurish, borderline malpractice moves we on the staff all witnessed.”

Notwithstanding the many examples of medical malfeasance that were tolerated by peers, is it possible for lay patients to properly evaluate doctors?

Last March, Consumer Reports ran a story detailing nine steps to help you find a good doctor. Some of these are…

  • Checking your insurer’s listings, along with recommendations provided by local hospitals
  • Looking for board certifications
  • Finding out about office policies and the support staff
  • Critically evaluating your first office visit

That’s all very well, but there are those, including academic and Brookings Institution Fellow Niam Yaraghi, who argue that “Patients are neither qualified nor capable of evaluating the quality of the medical services that they receive. How can a patient, with no medical expertise, know that the treatment option that he received was the best available one? How can a patient’s family who lost him on a hospital bed, know that physicians had provided their loved one with the best possible medical care?”

Yaraghi notes the difference from rating restaurants and financial advisers. “Customers are generally qualified and capable of evaluating services and products. At a restaurant, anybody can tell if the steak is too chewy, the atmosphere is not pleasant, or the waitress is rude. Although a patient may also lack financial expertise and rely on a financial adviser to manage his stock portfolio, he can still judge the quality of financial advisers’ recommendations by considering the growth in his stocks’ value and compare it with the market’s rate.”

Perhaps, it’s time for a fresh approach. I was recently introduced to the new website, which offers a peer rate and review platform to cover all professionals in every industry—including healthcare. As explained to me by Michael Zammuto, CEO and co-founder: Before Completed, there simply was not a standardized rating system for people in business. There were company review sites; professional niche review sites; and troll-magnet complaint board review sites.

He adds that online reviews are largely untrusted, unverified, and skewed towards negative one star complaints or perfect five star reviews. As such, the mission of Completed is to build a meritocratic society by providing a central information source and a trusted online review system that provides accurate ratings for all professionals in every industry.

Zammuto offers a few more key points:

There is a gamification component, whereby filling out profiles to completion (and this requires either reference to a social media account or documentation) provides the ability to obscure anonymous reviews and to access rewards.

A network effect is established. New reviews create new profiles; new profiles rank in search engines for users’ names in top positions; and profiles are listed on the Completed search engine. Users claim their profiles and verify them to control reviews. Notably, only constructive criticism is welcome. Cyberbullying is strictly prohibited. Any reviews that we deem as harassing, threatening, embarrassing, or targeting will not be posted.

As he sums it up…

“A comprehensive review site is indispensable to all individuals and industries, starting with the healthcare profession. Compared to the status quo; compared to the excess quantity and scattershot quality of most review sites; compared to the time people must invest in investigating the reliability of these sites; compared to the lack of consolidation and the absence of transparency; compared to all of these things, Completed is the solution to the credibility crisis so many doctors and healthcare providers face.”