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Free Physician Rating and Medical Q&A Forum at

8 Mins read

EXCLUSIVE POST – is the web’s largest expert-only health and legal Q&A forum and directory.  Avvo’s mission is to help people make the best decisions for their important medical and legal needs.  The company is guided by two principles: a high level of transparency and better consumer/patient guidance.

EXCLUSIVE POST – is the web’s largest expert-only health and legal Q&A forum and directory.  Avvo’s mission is to help people make the best decisions for their important medical and legal needs.  The company is guided by two principles: a high level of transparency and better consumer/patient guidance.

Avvo’s website contains a medical directory that rates and profiles more than 90 percent of doctors and dentists in the US.  Consumers can access this directory and use it to evaluate prospective doctors based on their board certification, disciplinary history, education, years in practice, employer – along with patient and peer reviews.

The website also allows consumers to ask questions in its health Q&A Forum.  More than 16,000 doctors and dentists with rated profiles in Avvo’s directory participate, providing a range of information intended to educate and orient consumers on their health issues and questions.  Unlike other health websites, consumers can identify exactly who is answering their question and review their credentials, providing a higher level of trust and peace-of-mind.  Presently, combined with its legal Q&A forum and directory, Avvo estimates that it connects its users with professionals every 9.7 seconds.

Mark Britton is here today to talk further about Avvo, what the site is about, how the rating system works, and what the future holds for this healthcare social media site.

Video Transcript (by TranscriptionStar)

Interviewer:  Hi Mark thanks for giving us a little bit of your time for an interview today.  I’d like you to tell us how you got started with Avvo and a little bit what the site is all about?

Interviewee:  Alright absolutely it’s a pleasure to be here Joan.  So the site is about helping people with their health issues and we do it in a unique way and that we’re the largest expert only, question and answer forum for legal and health issues.  And I focus on expert because we rate and profile 90 percent of the doctors lawyers and dentists in the United States and so anyone can come into our site, ask a question for free, anonymously if need be and real doctors, rated doctors will come in and answer those questions again for free, but it’s a big change up from what you see in a lot of other sites where it’s a lot of general information.  You have the doctors answering your specific question and then you can click through and read all about the doctor’s background; where they went to school, like what kind of leadership positions they have within the industry whether they have any misconduct, those types of things.  So it’s really transparent in helping people get more information and better guidance regarding their health issues.  


Interviewer:  Great and tell us a little about how your rating system actually works and what criteria do you use?


Interviewee:  Sure, so we actually have three types of ratings.  We have our editorial rating which is the Avvo rating and that goes from one which is extreme caution all the way up to 10 and I’ll tell you a little bit more about that.  By the way 10 is superb.  And then we have patient ratings where anyone can come in and they can get former or current patient and rate their doctor or peers where any peer can come in and say thumbs up this is a very strong doctor in our community.  On the Avvo ratings specifically, so the Avvo rating is pretty unique, it’s really a form of resonate scoring where we look at all of those signals in a doctor’s résumé.  Their educational history, their residency, fellowship, leadership positions, where they speak.  where they write, hospital privileges et cetera and we just take all off those signals and we worked with hundreds of doctors and really at this point thousands of doctors we could extensively launch.  We had all sorts of input from doctors that are using the system and we have ratings for just under ratings and profiles for just under a million doctors, but as far as power users we’re coming up on about 20,000 doctors who are actively using the site, we just what it’s actually the number 17,000, but it’s growing very quickly by the time many people read this it’ll be 20,000.  So who are using a site in their answering questions et cetera.  So we have all of these doctors that have helped contribute to our rating so that we can refine it and we just take all these different signals and we rank them to give this miracle rating from one to 10, but where doctors would give a lower score in our system is when they have misconduct in their background and that’s especially multiple instances misconduct and that’s where you see doctors start getting into the extreme caution on a category as opposed to the higher categories of excellent or superb.


Interviewer:  Okay thanks and now for the question and answer part which is free, how many questions do you get in one day and what kind of questions and do the patients know who is answering their questions?


Interviewee:  So a couple of, they were a couple of questions in that question…


Interviewer:  Yeah that’s alright I got three in one there.


Interviewee:  I’ll try to get them all.  So I mean we get thousands of questions, we’re just coming up a million questions answered and we’re actually, we’ve launched a new campaign called no question left unanswered where we’ll answer a million health questions this year and what’s really neat about them, with those 16,000 doctors that are actively participating in the site is we currently have just over 70 percent response rate so a very high response rate.  It’s not quite as high as our legal part of the site which has been out or four years, it has a 97 percent response rate, but we do have a lot of doctors who are in there answering these questions and helping people out.  And Joan help me with the other two parts?


Interviewer:  Sorry, yes what kind of questions why don’t you give me a typical question that you get numerous questions on the same topic, that’s about like in point of average?


Interviewee:  Sure so we get a lot of primary care questions so and it seems to be where people need the most help and very simple questions.  So that they keep in mind about Avvo is it’s all about just orienting a patient or maybe orienting a consumer before they become a patient.  And so most of the people out there when it comes to the medical profession, they just have no idea where to turn, it’s big words, it’s a complicated process, you have insurance industry involved and on top of that because of the insurance industry they’re really getting squeezed.  I mean the average time spent with a doctor, the average patient visit today is about 13 minutes and people sense that.  They know that when they go into a visit, that they’re just not going to have much time so that creates a bunch of anxiety, So we want to have a phone there on the one hand that gives them a place to ask their tailored questions in advance and get ready for their visits or at least for some of them just knowing whether they need a doctor and what type of doctor they might need.


On the other side for the doctors I mean it’s just so important the doctors engage in this orientation discussion because it used to be that doctors were, I mean we’re constantly out in our communities.  I think that the old [indiscernible] [0:06:37] doing house calls and in a way doctors have given up on that and especially as it’s moved online in these massive communities.  Even in their practice areas they‘re just not engaging and so you see people like Jenny McCarthy who are leading the conversation around autism and rather than the doctors, all the fantastic doctors they’re doing work on autism and neurology.  So our mission is to create that conversation, we did that very robust conversation for both the consumer and the doctor and really bringing us back to a time when that conversation was happening all the time.  So just to go previously in your question a lot of questions around pediatrics and LGBYN, but we also see a  lot of questions around skin and beauty, cosmetic surgery that sort of stuff where people just say very simple questions.  I’m seeing wrinkles along, under my eyelids is this natural for a person who is 35 should I be getting surgery at 35 or something as simple as somebody saying I’m pregnant when should I go inform my first doctor visiting?


Interviewer:  Interesting okay very interesting.  What bout patient privacy? A word on that? 


Interviewee:  Sure, well I mean patient privacy is something I would encourage every doctor out there to understand incredibly well because it’s important and the rules are real and that being said they should understand them so that they don’t use them as an excuse.  I’m speaking at many different medical conferences, I hear doctors raise HIPPA repeatedly as the reason they’re not engaging or are afraid to engage in social media.  The reality is for most of social media again it’s this orientation layer.  It’s not as though a Facebook group or a question asked on Avvo or LinkedIn group, they’re not trying to set up or replace the physician patient interaction dynamic in any way.  What they’re trying to do is create this orientation layer where people are so completely lost in this massive system.  Again they have so little time within that system that they’re turning to the internet to talk to people to talk to experts.  And so doctors should be excited about orienting people and again seldom are you, you’re not going to diagnose them over the internet; you’re going to give them just like you would at any, at a cocktail party or a conference.  You’re going to help them understand their issue and then you’re going to suggest that they come see you or one off your colleagues or another doctor that is a specialist in the area that they need.  That’s what doctors do and the fact that it’s moved online shouldn’t matter at all.


Interviewer:  Great okay thanks and now what about future plans do you have any of those?


Interviewee:  We have all sorts of future plans and I think that one of the things that’s the hardest to speaking which future plan is the best.  But for 2012 our focus is absolutely going to be on no question left unanswered I would encourage all of your readers, viewers to visit Avvo, so it’s A-V-V-O dot com.  Everything within Avvo is free, but we have an area of the site that is answers. avvo. com/pregnancy and I think I’ll go and check that, but I have the right address, but it is one of our first, yes slush pregnancy I just pulled up the site here.  We’re going to create a number of health centers around interesting topics and we talked about how a pregnancy is an area for us we’re going to do one for pediatrics, we’ll go into [indiscernible] [0:10:48] and other big areas.  But on our current campaign that I mentioned before no question left unanswered we’re going to have sites where you can come in and learn more about a specific issue and for the pregnancy one that I just mentioned, you can come in and watch a video that is called the, it’s nine months in 90 seconds.  So in 90 seconds you can see all of the changes that your body goes through and that your baby goes through during the entire time of gestation.  So it’s, we’re out there to answer all sorts of health questions in 2012 and on the other side we’re just out there to continue the conversation with doctors and get them as involved as possible in social media as they can be.


Interviewer:  Okay, well this is great Mark it was very interesting.  Thanks a lot.


Interviewee:  Thank you, thanks and you have a great site.


Interviewer:  Thanks. 


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