Following numerous complaints received regarding a website for the evaluation of doctors (www.okdoc.ch), we decided to look into the matter and to verify that data protection requirements are being met within the context of the anonymous online grading of physicians.
When http://www.okdoc.ch/, a website dedicated to the evaluation of doctors, went live in May 2008, there were many physicians who wrote in to complain. In application of Article 29 of the Data Protection Act, we contacted Bonus AG, the company that runs this evaluation site, and in June 2008 we submitted to them a list of recommendations. In particular, we pointed out that they needed to obtain the authorisation of the doctor concerned, and that the latter had to be granted the possibility of refusing the rating or the listing of their personal details (name, specialisation and address).
After discussions with the person in charge at the company, Bonus.ch has agreed to transform the evaluation site into a recommendation site.
We then checked the site again to ensure that our recommendations had been followed up, and subsequently drew up a list of conditions that had to be met by the new recommendation site, in order to comply with data protection legislation.
- Positive evaluations and comments may be stored to the extent that they concern medical practitioners who, after receiving an information letter, have not objected to the data processing (tacit agreement).
- The reactivation of recommendation modalities for doctors who refused to be evaluated, is only permissible if, after receiving the information letter, the doctor in question explicitly agrees to the evaluation appearing on the new website.
- A medical practitioner has the right to demand that all personal details concerning him/her be removed from the website. The data may only be reinstated if, after the information letter has been sent out, a doctor who had previously asked for the data to be removed, explicitly requests that the data be put back online.
Bonus.ch has now listed all these points under "Tacit consent and right of objection" in a section of the information letter sent to doctors. Bonus.ch sent the information letter to all medical practitioners in response to the follow-up check carried out subsequent to our recommendations.