Physician Practice

Study says physician rating websites not useful to consumers

Physician Practice Insider, September 4, 2017

A new study has found that physician rating websites are popular with consumers but offer little clinical value to help prospective patients choose the highest-quality physician.

The study, published in the March issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, examined a random sample of ratings for 600 physicians in Boston, Dallas, and Portland, Oregon. It found that just 34% of physicians had multiple online reviews, and that most had only one review. While the study noted that the average number of reviews per physician has increased in recent years, it added that most physicians did not have enough reviews to provide consumers with sufficient information to choose a physician. 

“These results demonstrate that it is difficult for a prospective patient to find (for any given physician on any commercial physician-rating website) a quantity of reviews that would accurately relay the experience of care with that physician,” researchers wrote.

The study also found that most rating websites did not allow consumers to search for practical information about physicians, such as the types of insurance they accept, their clinical specialties, or the languages they speak. Of the 28 sites examined, nine allowed users to search for insurance networks accepted by physicians, and just five allowed searches based on clinical conditions. More than half of the sites surveyed allowed consumers to search by a physician’s hospital affiliation.

The study authors suggested that websites would compile better reviews if they took a more systematic approach to gathering physician data.

“Methods that use systematic data collection (e.g., surveys) may have a greater chance of amassing the quantity and quality of reviews to allow patients to make inferences about patient experience of care,” the report stated.

Read the full article in Physician Practice Perspectives.

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