online tools


Ruling: You Can Call Your Doctor ‘A Real Tool’ In Online Review

(Janekpfeifer/Wikimedia Commons)

(Janekpfeifer/Wikimedia Commons)

Please forgive me for posting week-old news, but I somehow missed this important decision: The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a man whose online review of a Duluth neurologist included a nurse’s description of the doctor as “a real tool.”

The Associated Press report on the landmark case explains that “a tool” is “slang for stupid or foolish,” but my own translation into the vernacular, by which I mean Yiddish, would be “schmuck,” and the Online Slang Dictionary notes that “tool can also be found in the thesaurus categories ‘Words meaning penis’ and ‘Words meaning uncool person, jerk, asshole (general insults – list of).'”

So to move on from the lexical to the legal implications, this ruling — which the AP notes is not binding in other states but may influence future decisions — seems to strike a blow in favor of patients’ rights to disparage their doctors in online review sites. The AP reports:

The opinion, written by Justice Alan Page, said the comments posted by Dennis Laurion don’t add up to defamation because they’re opinions that are entitled to free speech protections.

“Referring to someone as `a real tool’ falls into the category of pure opinion because the term `real tool’ cannot be reasonably interpreted as stating a fact and it cannot be proven true or false. … We conclude that it is an opinion amounting to `mere vituperation and abuse’ or `rhetorical hyperbole’ that cannot be the basis for a defamation action,” the justices said.

And this from the losing lawyer: Continue reading

Spotlight On Castlight: Online Tool Helps Patients Turn Consumers

WBUR's Martha Bebinger

On HealthCare Savvy today, WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reports on the growing buzz around Castlight Health, an online shopping tool for health care consumers. She writes:

Investors are betting on the firm, and it keeping turning up on “best of” lists. Castlight led The Wall Street Journal’s top 50 Venture-Backed Companies for 2011. It’s one of Dow Jones’ 50 Most Investment-Worthy Technology Start-Ups, and is on Fast Company’s list of the world’s most innovative companies.

Castlight is an online tool that gives patients cost and quality information for doctors, hospitals and specific procedures. The costs are based on your individual insurance plan. It is only available through employers who contract with the company. There is a demo on the company’s homepage. We have one review and will post more as we get them.

Dr. Giovanni Colella of Castlight Health

Read the full post here for her interview with Castlight CEO Dr. Giovanni Colella, who talks about helping to create a “whole new behavioral industry” as patients and doctors alike to begin to think more about costs. Some basics:

What are the most common reasons that members use Castlight?

A first user search is typically to compare the cost and quality of their primary care doctor. The costs can range from $80-$250. Those searches alone are generating savings. That’s give or take, what happens in the first search, but keep in mind that our oldest client has only been with us for a year, so we are really just starting to analyze all of this.

So members are not as likely to look for who offers the lowest cost and best quality test or procedure? Continue reading