Last Monday, the New York Times reported the Obama administration plans to use mystery shoppers to assess the state of doctor shortage in the United States. Two days after the story broke, the Department of Health and Human Services said they were halting the research project. The Times cited “criticism from doctors and politicians” as the reason the study was halted, even as the DHHS defended the survey as a way to measure access to primary care with no threat to patient privacy.
As a provider of mystery shopping services, I get a bit anxious every time a story about our industry appears in the press. When words such as “stealth” appears in a headline and mystery shoppers appears in quotes, the media is unwittingly contributing to further degenerating the perception of what mystery shopping is. It’s not their fault; our industry itself may be contributing to the mis-perception with titles like “secret shopper.”