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Doctor 'TripAdvisor' a concern: AMA

AAP logoAAP 29/07/2016 By By Sarah Wiedersehn

A rate-my-doctor website, dubbed the 'TripAdvisor' of healthcare, has been welcomed by the federal government but met with caution from doctors.

Private health insurers Bupa and HBF have agreed to join the Whitecoat doctor directory and customer review website founded by rival nib - expanding its reach to about six million privately insured Australians.

The health funds say Whitecoat will promote competition and improve transparency among high-charging doctors.

"There is simply too little transparency when it comes to the customer's experience of the healthcare system," nib managing director Mark Fitzgibbon said.

Lunched in 2013, the website already carries publicly available information about more than 35,000 registered providers and hosts more than 250,000 customer reviews.

While the platform now includes allied healthcare providers such as dentists and physiotherapists, it is looking to expand to include medical specialists like surgeons.

Minister for Health Sussan Ley says the online directory is another step in the right direction towards helping Australians be fully informed when they shop around for private health insurance.

"Empowering consumers to make informed decisions and be in control of their health care are key aims of the Turnbull Government's proposed reforms to private health insurance, and we are already getting on with the job of delivering them," Ms Ley said.

But the Australian Medical Association fears consumers may actually loose control over their health care choices.

It claims the private insurers will use the directory to dictate how and when people receive their healthcare, going against the very reason for having private health insurance - choice.

"The last thing the AMA wants to see is a United States-style managed care system in Australia where insurers, because of their huge market power, will have complete control over the care that patients receive," AMA President Dr Michael Gannon said.

The AMA also warns surgeons may avoid treating high-risk patients as a result of the patient-led reviews and advises the best person to judge the suitability of a specialist is your GP.

Private Healthcare Australia, the private health insurance industry's peak representative body, says the site is independently managed and gives "genuine opportunity" for consumers to take greater control of their healthcare.

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