Healthcare News & Insights

Doctors say online review sites are useless, check their own ratings anyway

Patients are using websites and social networks to conduct all sorts of health-related research. But there’s one thing physicians don’t believe patients are using the Internet for: 

Reading online ratings of doctors and healthcare providers.

As the consumerization of health care continues to rise, patients are putting in more time and effort to conduct research when they make decisions about their care. And a lot of that research takes place online, as 73% of U.S. adults have used online health information and tools, according a survey conducted by Manhattan Research.

And more than half (54%) of the 8,700 patients surveyed say online information and tools have influenced their choice of providers, treatments and services.

However, at least as far as doctors can tell, that doesn’t mean patients are using information from online rating sites to decide which doctors and hospitals to visit, according to a recent 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.

Despite the doubts about the use and usefulness of online rating sites, 69% have checked those sites to see what their own ratings were like. Among them, only 39% agreed with what they saw. Another 42% partially agreed, and 19% disagreed completely.

If a doctor or staff member comes across an online review that’s especially negative, experts say these are the best ways to react:

  • Don’t respond publicly — Some review sites allow doctors to post a response to a user’s complaint. But most experts recommend doctors resist the urge to do so. It’ll only elicit more negative statements, and according to most doctors, a negative review won’t have much impact anyway.
  • If the comment is highly untrue or unfair, have it removed — Review websites typically have policies to prevent liability for defamation suits — that means if a user posts something that’s untrue about a doctor, the site will most often comply with requests to take the review down.
  • Conduct patient surveys — Most doctors agree internal surveys are more useful for gathering data about what the organization is and isn’t doing correctly. Polling patients allows the organization to get the specific information it needs to improve operations.

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Comments

  1. Handsome Jack says:

    I would say most reviews are useless at least for hospitals. Patients come in feeling crummy and leave angry because they felt sick and didn’t like their bill. Some patients have no idea what a nurse’s job description is and get angry because the nurse didn’t provide on demand room service for them.

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