Thursday, November 13, 2008

My Experience with "HealthGrades" Reports

My wife is considering a tricky surgical procedure here in my small town, and as a result we both felt that we needed a bit of outside information on the doctors, the hospital, etc. As many readers have probably seen, a company known as "HealthGrades" advertises all over the Internet for these reports they sell about doctors. Just do a Google search on a doctor name and the Healthgrades ad for this report is bound to be the first thing that pops up.

I have always hesitated buying these "online reports," and would -- as a rule -- avoid any offer for information-at-a-price, whether it is on a particular company, a telephone number, etc. But, in this case, we bit. I spent $12.95 to read the report that promised information that you just can't get from the doctor's office staff.

It was disappointing, to say the least. Part of the problem is that this doctor had no other consumer comments, so there was just not much to learn. We saw his years of medical practice, and the fact that he's had no disciplinary actions (that was comforting and worth a part of the admission price). But overall, it wasn't worth my $12.95.

Content to just leave it as a small wasted expense, I put it aside. That is, until I read the small print on an invoice that came to my email. As it turns out, by ordering this report I had given them permission to bill my credit card on a monthly basis for "watchdog subscriptions" on the two doctors we investigated. That's right . . . without my specific permission, this company was going to nibble away at my credit card each month, hoping that I wouldn't catch on to what they were doing.

All in all, "HealthGrades" falls into the Sham category in this blogger's editorial opinion. Watch out -- if you do buy a report on a doctor, go immediately to your account and cancel all "subscriptions."

Dave

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post - I was also quite surprised at their scam. I immediately canceled my subscription. What are they thinking? Here's the real clincher, I discovered that I could get even more comprehensive data for FREE. I discovered the site Vitals.com and I was presented with so much more data about my doctor and there were some reviews by other patients. That's what I am talking about. What your take? Hope this helps.

Tova W said...

Healthgrades will charge monthly recurring charging on your credit card unless you cancel your account. They have a little blurb on the side of the page that says so. I think it is conniving as well. Surfing around, I think you can get all the doctor information for free, including comments, reviews and tons of other data at web sites like Vitals, Vimo and Drscore. I was wondering if Healthgrades was offering something special for the money you paid.

Dave Jensen said...

Thanks guys for the comments on this one . . . I have had a lot of email showing me how much this company "Healthgrades" is hated by users. Any company that dings your credit card without your explicit permission should be banned from the Internet. In my case, they refunded me my money after I published this blog -- that doesn't change my editorial opinion that the whole concept of monthly recurring billings is WRONG.

Anonymous said...

All of this information is freely available from the state medical board which licenses the physicians as well and is probably your most current source.

Anonymous said...

I worked for HealthGrades and agree with all of these comments. Unfortunately, after being fired for speaking out to HG managers about their reports, I was taken to court in hopes that they would be able to keep me from talking about what they called "proprietary" information. I thought it was hilarious because all of the information they provide in their physician database come from FREE sources. How can a doctor's information be "proprietary?" I think their biggest issue with me, and one thing I can not mention, is how much money they were making from their ecommerce site; it's distgusting and horrible, and I wish they would stop. Now they have a partnership with Yahoo, I hear. What a joke. No "for profit" should be allowed to provide free health information, regardless of the format, at a cost. So what if they maintain the database. They can't even do that right.

Dave Jensen said...

Anonymous, I would be very careful what you post on a public forum, if you are being sued by a former employer.

Please write me if you want me to try and find way to delete your comments. Good luck to you -- Healthgrades does not sound like a quality company.

Dave Jensen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave Jensen said...

I just found an interesting article from the Rocky Mountain News about Healthgrades. Here's the link: Healthgrades Flunks