Other locations on the Internet can also provide information about your practice. Another place is the American Medical Association (AMA) Doctorfinder. Almost 700,000 physicians nationwide are listed through this resource. The basic physician listing includes the following information:
Your name and specialty
Your practice's address and contact information
Your membership status with the AMA
Your education details (where you went to medical school, when you graduated, etc.)
Your board certification
Additionally, information can be added to the basic listing including your photograph, your practice's accepted health care plans, and more.
Another place where information about you and your practice can be found by patients is the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) web site. After registering for free, potential patients can search for physicians in their area by specialty.
If you are a certified specialist, then your listing through the site will contain only some basic information about you and your certification. The idea is to provide potential patients with a way of finding specialists, not a way of doing research on physicians.
While both the AMA and ABMS services are aimed at helping patients locate physicians, The Federation of State Medical Boards (FMSB) site wants to assist patients in making informed decisions about their health care providers. For a fee, your patients can order a report detailing any disciplinary actions taken against you by state medical boards.
This report includes the date of the action, the state medical board who handled the action, and the reason for the action. However, the report does not include any malpractice cases. Some states prohibit that type of information from being made public. Other states, such as Florida, have methods patients can use to find the information.
Sites like HealthGrades.com can also provide patients with information about you and your practice. Patients can purchase reports detailing your disciplinary history, your professional background, your certification information, your comparison to the national average, and more. The public can take part in surveys which allow them to rank their satisfaction with physicians in their area.
What You Can Do to Help Your Patients and Your Practice
Because you now know where patients can go for information about you and your practice, you should begin checking the accuracy of that online information. Order the reports from the FMSB and sites like HealthGrades.com so you can see what your patients are able to see. If any information on those reports is incorrect, contact those organizations about how to correct the problem. With the HealthGrades.com reports, you may need to get in contact with the agencies providing them with their information to correct the problems.
You should also regularly check your listings at the AMA Doctorfinder and ABMS sites. If your information is out-of-date or incorrect, you can make the necessary changes so patients won't have to dig through old contact information, etc.
Another way you can help your patients is by providing all of this information on your own website, both the good and the bad. Sure you don't want to promote the fact that you may have been disciplined five or ten years ago, but your patients have the right to know and can easily find out this information for themselves. By telling them yourself, you'll be able to put the incident into the proper perspective and emphasize your more positive present.
Resources Used in Article
Hospital Ratings – online ratings of hospitals visualized by zip code and performance on several common procedures.
About the Author
Amy Jorgensen is a freelance writer based in southern Indiana. Her articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including Southern California Physician magazine.
The author has no financial relationship to any of the companies listed in the article.