• Jennifer N. Simpson

Physicians Deserve The Right To Online Privacy

Updated: Sep 25, 2021

Dr. Kimberly Jackson, the president of PWT, has worked tirelessly to find ways to improve the U.S. medical system. She and her colleagues launched a petition against online physician review sites to improve and protect the reputation of the dedicated physicians who often fall victim to their unfair practices and motives. The petition has over 44,000 signatures and counting.

Online review sites are spaces where patients are allowed to rate and comment anonymously, and, as is, these sites employ no system of verifying whether or not the information reported to the site is accurate or authentic. PWT proposes a rule that will set the standard for online privacy rights for physicians, all of whom are governed by the moral responsibility to adhere to the boundaries and guidelines of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA).

These websites, such as Yelp and Healthgrades, are advertising agencies parading as reputable assets to patient care. They allow the public to post negative or defamatory comments on physician profiles without any attempt at checking for veracity. To boot, instead of giving the physician the right to appeal or remove the information, account representatives push package upgrades that offer reputation management services that will allow profile owners the option to manipulate the comments. PWT works hard to let both physicians and the public know the risks of allowing these sites to run unchecked.

Unfortunately, there are no current laws in place to protect the physician’s right to opt out of accounts on online review sites. Antics like these have both financial and security implications for physicians. False defamatory comments have forced doctors to close their practices and resulted in physicians being stalked and worse. According to PWT executive director, Eric Funches, "many of the negative online physician reviews resemble the experiences that I endured as a leader in education when we were called to take action against online bullying amongst our students.”

Physicians Working Together needs your support to present a bill that mandates online privacy rights to protect physicians. Donate today at www.physiciansworkingtogether.org/donate.

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