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How to write an informed review of a primary care provider

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

Reviews are a great way to inform a health care professional on what they’re doing well and on where they may need improvement. We are all looking for new ways in which we can develop our careers and hone our skills. Time constraints for medical appointments often leave little time for you to offer feedback to the practitioner at the time of the visit. Reviews can support health care professionals to provide the best care possible to you and towards their future patients. Where to give/deliver your review

There are many ways to deliver a review to someone. The most common way is writing one online through a review platform like Google Business Profile. These reviews are public, and may help guide other patients to determine if your practitioner is a good fit for them. You can also email your review directly and privately to the clinic (if they have a public facing email) or (if you’re comfortable) let them know about your experience over the phone. Ultimately, it’s up-to you to determine which route you feel most comfortable with to help get your message across.

How to write an informed review of a health care provider or clinic?

  • Be specific and relevant - include as many details as you feel comfortable sharing (Note: if you plan on posting this review in a public forum (like a website or Google Business Profile, you may want to consider the risks and benefits regarding the amount of detail you share in your written review, and ensure not to include any personal identifiable data)

    • At a minimum, we recommend including

      • the date of your visit (or approximate date range)

      • The name of the health care provider(s) you saw during your appointment

      • The assessment or procedure that you had

      • Your overall experience of that assessment or procedure

  • Be respectful - Make sure your review includes constructive feedback. If your experience was beyond the scope of a simple review and you’re looking to file a more formal complaint, then we recommend contacting the regulatory body of that health care profession to report them. In Ontario, the regulatory body for physicians is the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. In Ontario, the regulatory body for nurses is the College of Nurses of Ontario.

    • Constructive feedback is respectful feedback that identifies the problem, describes the ideal scenario for you as a patient and then finally provides possible solutions to obtain that ideal or desired scenario. Constructive feedback should be specific and attainable. Constructive feedback does not include the use of profanities and/or insults, especially if you want your review and feedback to be taken seriously.

  • Be direct and concise - Write clearly so the review is direct and clear. You don’t want someone to read your review and not understand exactly what you want to communicate.

  • Be mindful - Health care workers are usually under an inordinate amount of pressure given their work environment, potential lack of resources or knowledge gaps in particular areas. Remember that at the end of the day, there is a person that is going to receive and read this review so approach it with the same care you would if you were saying this face-to-face.

An Example of an Informed Review

On January 3, 2023, I had an appointment with Dr. Cabral to have a pap smear. When I arrived, the front desk staff were very friendly and escorted me to the patient room. After waiting about five minutes, I was seen by Dr. Cabral who explained that I would be having a pap smear done and what would be involved. I appreciated Dr. Cabral explaining to me what was going to happen before, during and after the procedure. Afterwards, Dr. Cabral told me they were going to leave and requested that I get undressed from the waist down, sit on the patient cot and place the white sheet over the lower half of my body. After another 5 minutes, Dr. Cabral came into the patient room and brought in a young student of theirs training in medical school. Dr. Cabral asked me if the young student could get some practice to perform my pap smear. The student nor Dr. Cabral introduced themselves. In the moment, I felt bad for saying ‘no’ to a student that was already in the room, but I already felt pretty vulnerable as I hadn’t met them before they came into the room. The student performed my pap smear, but you could tell that they were still seriously learning as it hurt quite a bit. Next time, I would appreciate it if Dr. Cabral could have: (1) Introduced me first to the student before asking me if they could perform the pap smear and (2) asked me privately without the student in the room.

As you can see throughout the review, the patient’s experience was mixed. Although they had a great staff at the front and were informed on the procedure, the patient felt ambushed by the health care provider to allow a student to practice their skills. This review is considerate of the reader without being ambiguous. The problems about the appointment were clear and the patient provided solutions to remedy the problems. Some questions you may want to consider when crafting your review may be:

  • What was the purpose of the appointment visit?

  • How did the provider respond to your concerns?

  • Do you feel that their response was appropriate? Why or why not?

  • What did the provider do well? What could they have done to improve your experience?

  • Will you return to this provider for care in the future? Why or why not?

Now that you have a good understanding of where to deliver your review, how to write and were provided with an example, you should feel well-equipped to write your own. Feel free to share this resource with others who may need support in writing their review.

Do you have feedback on this article or have a suggestion on ways to improve it? Send us an email with the subject line: Writing an Informed Review.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our article! We hope you appreciated the effort that went into bringing it to you today. As a small not-for-profit, we are heavily reliant on generous donations to helps us stay afloat. Please consider donating to help ensure we can regularly provide health information for young people across Canada. Every donation makes an impact!

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