Healthcare News & Insights

Most doctors monitor their online reviews, survey says

While many physicians think it doesn’t matter what’s being said about them online, patients are increasingly relying on online doctor reviews to make decisions about their care. Is your organization doing anything to manage doctors’ online reputations? 

shocked-computer-usersDoctors are aware of the sites that allow patients to review their healthcare providers. However, most don’t think patients are using those doctor rating sites to help inform their choices, according to a survey from the American College of Physician Executives.

Among the 730 physicians surveyed:

  • just 21% believe that more than half of patients have consulted online rating sites
  • 55% believe only a quarter have done so
  • 29% say online reviews have no impact on their practice
  • 26% called online doctor reviews a nuisance, and
  • only 12% believe those reviews are helpful.

But other research shows that those online tools are starting to matter. For example, a survey released earlier this year by the University of Michigan Health System found that doctor rating websites are an important tool for a significant number of parents when they choose a pediatrician for their children.

Among the 2,100 parents polled, 25% said online doctor reviews were an important factor in their decisions. In addition, 30% said they’ve decided not to visit a doctor because of things they found online.

Doctors monitor their reviews

Apparently, doctors are taking notice, and a majority (85%) actively monitor what’s being written about them, and 36% also read competitors’ reviews, according to a recent survey from ZocDoc.

Fortunately, most patients are honest when they write about their healthcare providers. Most of those physicians said what they found was fair (62%) or very fair (23%).

But what about the remaining 15%? Healthcare providers should be careful about how they react to those negative reviews.

Publicly responding to comments can make the doctor look bad and lead to even more negative remarks from the reviewer. And taking legal action — as some doctors have done recently — rarely ends well for providers.

If a comment is defamatory, it may be possible to contact the website and have it taken down. In other situations, experts say the best medicine is to encourage patients to write their own reviews — the vast majority will say something positive, lessening the impact of the negative comments.

For more, read our earlier post on the five best ways to respond to negative online reviews.

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