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College Website Reviews

Activity Purpose

As part of a BC-PAN meeting on January 29th, 2020, public advisors were asked to examine various college partners’ websites in order to identify potential barriers to access or opportunities for improvement from a layperson’s perspective.

Key Findings

Can you find the standard related to record keeping?

  • Confusion as to whether they were looking for their own medical records on the college website
  • It wouldn’t occur to them public to look for standards on record keeping
  • Just want to know who has the records and how to get them—but wouldn’t think to ask the college these questions
  • Would only think of looking for the college’s rules on access to records if the HCP said they had to pay for them

CDSBC Website

Each advisor was asked to find the CDSBC website and various sections of the website. They were asked to give their opinion on its strengths and weaknesses.


  • Confusion as to whether dentists and dental surgeons are the same thing
  • Busy, cluttered, “About CDSBC” would be enough for the homepage
  • Not geared towards the public, content for HCPs shouldn’t be on the homepage
  • Visually appealing
  • Readable
  • Quick links are good
  • Don’t need to know who the members of the board are right away
    • First thought seeing the board was “that’s a lot of white folks”
  • No recognition that they are on unceded territory

Complaints section

  • Difficult to find because there were so many options
  • The tabs along the top were helpful
  • The section name was “public protection” but this language might not mean the same thing to someone who doesn’t work in the health-care system, “complaints” is more straightforward
  • The “submit a complaint” information was thorough and understandable
  • The “before you submit a complaint” and “preparing for a tough talk” information was found to be problematic
    • Puts the onus on the patient to have a conversation with the HCP even though the patient’s reason for coming to the website may have been to avoid having an uncomfortable conversation
    • Having a conversation may be difficult because of the power differential between HCP and patients and may be especially difficult for patients coming from a background of trauma
      • HCPs should be encouraged to take education in trauma-informed care
  • “What the CDSBC can and cannot do” is helpful for managing expectations
  • Should be clear that when a complaint is made, it will be investigated and won’t end up in a “bottomless pit”
  • A process flow chart would be helpful on the complaints page

Find a dentist close to where you live or work

  • Difficulty getting to the right page—ended up on association website
  • The language “registrant lookup” isn’t clear, “find a dentist” would be better
  • Could only find information about becoming licensed as a dentist

Description of dental specialties/language used

  • Couldn’t find the list
  • There’s a lot of technical language the average member of the public wouldn’t understand or should be defined further, e.g. “maxillofacial” and “complex medical condition”
  • Mix of detailed and generic information

Other comments

  • Feels like a website for dentists, not a website for the public
  • Navigation is difficult, especially on a phone
  • It would be helpful to have “public” and “provider” buttons and then the public button could break down further to questions like “are you looking for a dentist?” and “are you looking to make a complaint?” etc.
  • Is there anywhere it talks about services for people with special needs (e.g. wheelchair accessibility)?
  • The quick link on the home page called “understanding the complaints process” just takes you to the BC Health Regulators website
  • Have any colleges considered an app as a supplement to the website for using on a phone?
  • There should be a way for people with visual impairments or literacy issues to easily use the website

CPTBC Website

Each advisor was asked to find the CPTBC website and various sections of the website. They were asked to give their opinion on its strengths and weaknesses.


  • No trouble finding the website
  • Patients are clearly primary
  • Not too cluttered or busy
  • Can find how to file a complaint and disciplinary actions in less than one click
  • Videos are great
  • Search box isn’t obvious
  • Rotating banner on the homepage is distracting and unhelpful as it doesn’t provide information
    • Have to wait for the images to change which stalls you
    • Difficult to read the words over the images
    • Consensus that the image showing the physical therapist and patient is good but the other images are not

Find a physical therapist in the directory

  • Easy to find the directory because there is no clutter
  • No way to find a physical therapist in your area without knowing their name

Find someone subject to disciplinary proceedings

  • Easy to find discipline and public notices in the yellow box on the homepage
  • When you look up the HCP in the directory on a PC, you can’t tell there has been any discipline
  • Public wouldn’t know the difference between a consent agreement and another form of discipline
  • Public might not understand the clinical terms used in the consent agreement
  • It’s not clear from the consent agreement whether the issue that occurred because the HCP was careless or whether it was out of HCP’s control

What are the top reasons you would visit a college’s website?

  • None—would just Google what I’m looking for or I would go to an office in person and ask for a list of practitioners
  • Searching for a registrant and information about their practice like whether they do home visits or whether they work at a hospital
  • Complaint forms
  • Contact information for college
  • Colleges should be trying to drive people to their websites by emphasizing that it is a credible source of information and the only source for certain information like disciplinary outcomes

Complaint section

  • Complaint form looked simple, unintimidating, and was only three pages but still had lots of space to for the patient to tell their story
  • Helpful that the complaint form, process, and outcomes was all on the same page so you can read without clicking through different pages
  • Feels less alienating and traumatizing as it doesn’t suggest that you go speak to the HCP involved

Complaints process

  • Some patients may feel more comfortable submitting the complaint over the phone or in person than through a written form
  • The language “make a complaint” feels very clinical
  • Patients may be concerned that submitting a complaint may alienate the HCP and lead to limited medical services for the patient
  • Process seems cumbersome
  • Process should be more positive—it should be clear to the patient that colleges want to help them get through the process and that it is proactive and ensures that future patients experience something better
    • Even if the college isn’t critical of the registrant doesn’t mean there isn’t something to be learned and this may provide patients with a sense of justice
  • An “annual accountability report” would be informative for registrants and the public—could cover complaint themes and what the college has done about them

Other comments

  • Visually it’s good but functionality leaves something to be desired
  • Can’t find whether I need a referral to see a physical therapist