Much as they might research restaurant reviews, healthcare consumers increasingly are seeking physician ratings online, and some experts say doctors should embrace the trend rather than fight it.
A report published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 65% of survey respondents were aware that online physician ratings existed. Among those who used the sites, 35% reported selecting a physician based on good reviews, while 37% avoided a doctor based on bad reviews. However, some 43% of survey respondents reported a “lack of trust” in physician-rating sites, and many still preferred word-of-mouth referrals from family and friends.
Nevertheless, use of online rankings is only going to grow in popularity, said Dr. David Hanauer of the University of Michigan Medical School, who co-authored the report.
“Health is too risky and too expensive for consumers to not verify,” said Dr. John Santa, medical director of Consumer Reports Health, which publishes objective hospital quality measures for consumers and is working to publish quality data on individual practice groups. In contrast, user-review websites such as Yelp and Angie's List let consumers offer subjective comments on individual doctors.