Online doctor ratings becoming popular

Have you checked Yelp yet to see how your primary care physician rates with his patients?

While evaluation of physicians hasn’t quite come to that yet, platforms that allow patients to critique their medical practitioners are becoming increasingly popular and could influence many people’s decisions when they select a doctor or other caregiver.

That’s the conclusion of a University of Michigan Medical School study that crunched 2012 data gleaned from interviews with 3,563 patients asking them about their awareness of and use of online medical review sites.

The survey, which appears in the February 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, reported that about 65 percent of those interviewed knew about the existence of online review sites and 25 percent had used such a site at least once.  

“Patients are increasingly turning to online physician ratings, just as they have sought ratings for other products and services,” the researchers said in a release. “Little is known about the public’s awareness and use of online physician ratings, and whether these sites influence decisions about selecting a physician.”

Now, a little more is known.

David Hanauer, of the University of Michigan Medical School, and colleagues found that:

  • 40 percent said rating sites were “very important” when choosing a physician
  • 35 percent of those who sought online physician ratings said they selected a physician based on good ratings
  • 37 percent avoided a physician with bad ratings

But such sites are not for everyone. The majority of respondents either didn’t know about such sites or hadn’t used one. For those who knew about the sites and hadn’t gone there, 43 percent cited a lack of trust in the information on the sites as the main reason.

"Rating sites that treat reviews of physicians like reviews of movies or mechanics may be useful to the public but the implications should be considered because the stakes are higher,” was their conclusion.

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