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„As if a Pedestrian Should Judge a Car Driving Past“

„As if a Pedestrian Should Judge a Car Driving Past“

Rudolf Henke talked to Rudolf Henke, chairman of the German Doctor’s Union called Marburger Bund, about MOT, data protection and advertising. Mr. Henke, as chairman of the Marburger Union you expressed some doubts about a rating portal for physicians. Can you explain why?

Rudolf Henke: I am wary because the AOK has made the announcement of planning a rating website, a kind of doctor’s MOT, without informing the physicians before. Additionally, the insurance company has not explained yet how the website will work in detail. Moreover, it is not correct to talk about an MOT test. I connect MOT to an expert opinion. An institution I appreciate since it is concerned with security. However, the AOK does not concentrate on security since patients are not experts and therefore are not able to evaluate the quality of medical treatment. This is, as if a pedestrian should judge a car driving past. Well, the AOK talks about a rating website and not about an MOT test for physicians. Patients are not supposed to evaluate the quality of the doctor, but friendliness of medical staff or whether the physician takes sufficient time for the patient’s treatment.

Henke: Many patients prefer sensitive physicians. However, the first thing I am interested in is the doctor’s competence. It is a nice side effect when the doctor and his medical staff are friendly on top of that. We need to be very careful at the moment to give the rating website premature praise. The AOK needs to be careful about giving opportunity for anonymous slander of physicians. An evaluation does not necessarily have to be negative. The rating website may just as well be some kind of advertisement for a doctor receiving many postive remarks.

Henke: Well, there is always the possibility to personally recommend a good doctor. That too is a good promotion. When I am not satisfied with the physician I could try to talk to him instead of airing my displeasure into the whole world via internet. A public dispute between doctor and patient seems to be a rather unfortunate matter. Additionally, the internet is prone to manipulations. There will always remain a trace of everything written down there.

Photo: Checklist 
Satisfied with a physician or
not?; © SXC The AOK is aware of that problem and wants to create barriers in order to prevent abuse. The insured are supposed to log in with their insurance number and can only vote once. This would prevent multiple assessments.

Henke: Multiple evaluations may be prevented with this measure. But what about data protection? The AOK has 24 million members. That is a huge data pool enabling the insurance to allocate which member judged what doctor. Such an undertaking should be left with independent consumer advisers. How to you regard the fact that scientists and physicians together are supposed to work out the questions for the rating website?

Henke: The AOK said that it wants to develop the questions with the help of physicians but we will have to wait and see if they will really do so. Also, we will wait and see who these physicians are. Are they going to be chosen by the AOK? We do not have information on that. First of all we would like to see a scheme. In the near future, we will talk about this with Jürgen Graalmann, vice chairman of the AOK federal union. Many patients wish for some kind of a guideline when searching for the right specialist. What alternative to the rating website would you suggest?

Henke: First of all, I would ask my general practitioner for some advice. The medical association and the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians can also help with finding a specialist. Additionally, most patients will talk with friends and acquaintances. That may not always be possible. Today, it is quite common to follow your job and to move to a new city where you do not know anybody.

Henke: Yes, that does happen. But this problem also exists when you need a doctor during your vacation. I do understand the interest of many patients in orientation and transparency. However, I do not think that this will be accomplished by this doctor’s navigator. There are still too many unsolved problems and the AOK is happy about all the publicity free of charge thanks to the media talking about it.

The interview was conducted by Simone Heimann.

What is the opinion of doctor's navigator supporters?

Two weeks ago, reported about the plans of the AOK. The government's patient representative Helga Kühn-Mengel took sides for a rating website. Click here for the interview!


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